Local news reports from Euharlee, about 1.5 hours northwest of Atlanta, indicate a contractor at the Georgia Power plant suffered injuries to both arms in an electrical accident.
A spokesperson for the company said the worker was conducting off-line maintenance when an electrical arc occurred between two pieces of equipment. The worker suffered burns on both arms, and emergency crews immediately responded to transport the worker to a local hospital.
Plant Bowen, where the incident occurred, is the ninth-largest power plant in the country in terms of net electricity, and it provides energy to a substantial swath of the Southeastern U.S. It was the same site where two years ago an explosion occurred during a planned maintenance outage. Two people were injured in that incident, it also resulted in significant property damage to equipment and facilities.
The Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) later determined the explosion happened as the result of human error resulting in a buildup of air and hydrogen inside a generator. The federal work safety agency fined the company $119,000 for the incident.
In the recent case, officials reported the worker is expected to recover from his injuries, though it isn’t clear whether he will suffer long-term damage to his arms.
Arc Flash, as described by OSHA, is when there is a flashover of electric current leaving its intended path and traveling through the air from one conductor to another or to the ground. When humans are in close proximity, it can result in serious injury or even death.
According to the American Burn Association, 61 percent of electrical burns with known injury circumstances from 2004 through 2013 were work-related. These accounted for 3,638 out of 5,955 deaths. The trade publication Industrial Safety & Hygiene News reports there are 30,000 arc flash incidents annually, resulting in 400 fatalities, 2,000 hospitalizations and 4,000 burns.
Arc flashes can be caused by a number of things, according to OSHA, including:
- Machine failure
- Accidental touching
- Dropping of tools
- Faulty installation
Some of the elements that contribute to the severity include:
- Increased temperature
- How close the worker is to the arc flash
Some common injuries resulting from arc flash include:
- Struck by flying objects
- Blast pressure injuries
- Sound blast injuries
The occupational safety agency notes it’s not uncommon in these situations for workers to never again regain past quality of life. Some may never return to work, and often have medical bills that exceed $1 million.
Workers’ compensation lawyers in Atlanta know in these types of cases, it’s imperative employees contact an experienced legal team to help file a claim for benefits. When work-related injuries are this serious, it’s necessary to make sure to maximize coverage received. That includes all reasonable medical expenses – current and future – as well as a wage stipend. In cases where injuries are catastrophic, those benefits could be granted for life. However, employers and insurance companies are not eager to agree, even when it’s clear injuries are serious and work-related.
Contractors especially may have a difficult time because identifying the official “employer” may be a challenge. There could also be a possibility of pursuing third-party litigation, but it’s best to have an attorney help determine your best possible course of action.
For information on Atlanta work injury compensation, contact J. Franklin Burns, P.C., at 1-404-303-7770.