Arc Flash Incident at Republic Steel (2014)


Lack of protective equipment for Republic Steel plant electrician results in 1st and 3rd degree burns after arc flash. Steel manufacturer faces $147K in fines for “avoidable” hazards.

What Happened?

An electric technician at the Republic Steel Corp. steel manufacturing plant in Blasdell was removing wiring from a fan motor in an overhead crane, when an ungrounded electrical conductor touched a grounded surface causing an arc flash. The electric technician sustained third degree burns on her hand and first degree burns on her face.

An investigation by the Buffalo Area Office of the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration found that Republic Steel failed to provide and ensure the use of effective face and hand protection by its employees.

Analysing the Root Cause:

Human Error


  1. 1st and 3rd degree burns caused to the employee
  2. Penalties of $70,000 each for the lack of hand and face protection. The steel manufacturer was also cited with a $7,000 fine, for failing to protect employees against contact with energized electrical equipment.Total proposed penalties are $147,000.

What could have been done to avoid this?

  1. A face shield and rubber insulating gloves should have been provided by the company.
  2. Safety boundaries should have been established along with warning labels.

What should be done to avoid such incidents in the future:

Having an Electrical Safety Audit (ESA) and Electrical Installation Condition Report (EICR) performed at the site can ensure that electrical systems and appliances within the workplace are safe, suitable for use and maintained suitably appropriately. Part of this involves the inspection and testing of the electrical systems by a competent person, as well as keeping suitable records up to date.

An Electrical Safety Audit is a thorough evaluation of all electrical wiring, connections, and systems for potential electrical hazards, design, and structural flaws. An EICR is an easy and comprehensive means to identify and reduce the risk of expensive electric fires and incidents of electrical origin. An EICR certification also ensures your company fulfills its compliance obligations.  

Benefit of getting an ESA/EICR is that it provides an unbiased examination of product safety and performance that is free of internal corporate constraints and market commercial expectations. This ensures that the installation fulfills the specifications against which it is being evaluated.

Arc Flash Hazard Study and Analysis can also be performed to assess the risks involved with incident energy, propose preventive measures to eliminate the risk of incident energy exposure and provide adequate safety equipment and clothing for those operating on electrically energized equipment.