Wearing appropriate protective equipment is crucial when working around high-voltage areas. Equipment can fail and “blow up at any time,” according to John Bradley, trades trainer at British Columbia Hydro and Power. Bradley can testify to the importance of protective equipment as he has investigated an accident that occurred with a 25 kV circuit breaker that could have killed three workers.
Bradley has worked as a substation electrician for 28 years, so he knows the ins and outs of everyday maintenance and methods. He has been a trades trainer for three years with the Work Methods Department, Safety Division, at BC Hydro and Power. BC Hydro is third largest electric utility in Canada and serves customers in an area containing over 94% of British Columbia's population. The utility is mandated to provide, "reliable power, at low cost, for generations."
He will present an “Investigation Report” of the 25-kV accident at the 2009 Finepoint Circuit Breaker Test and Maintenance Training Conference in October, in Atlanta, Georgia.
“This type of circuit breaker is considered very dependable, and workers would not expect this type of blowup to happen on this equipment,” Bradley said. “A simple, mechanical failure caused a huge fireball that would have put the workers in the bite if they were walking their normal path in the substation while performing this high-voltage switching.”
Bradley emphasizes to students the respect and awareness that workers should have when working around high-voltage equipment in a substation. “A good day can go bad within seconds,” he said.
This particular session is important for the Finepoint Circuit Breaker conference because all of the utility workers attending are from around the world, and they have similar equipment that could fail—just as severe as this case.
The session “Accident Investigation Report” is scheduled for Thursday, Oct. 8.