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We all make mistakes and when it comes to safety it’s not something to fool with.

My most recent mistake was to rely on a wall switch to cut off power to do a quick fixture replacement. I know it was a lazy man’s way of doing things and of course it would be proper to follow LOTO and turn off the breaker and lock it out and tag it. This was on my own home and no one was around and the wall switch was in site. Unfortunately the switch was a Lutron Maestro with a FASS switch and I neglected to pull it out. Thank goodness I already had the ground connected to the fixture or I would have probably dropped it .

Be honest and share some of your mistakes if you dare.
155224
 

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Once, in the dark, I put a jumper in the wrong spot in the secondary of a 12KV/120/240V control power transformer. Filled the control/switchgear room and half the plant with magic smoke.
 

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The last good shock I got was cleaning up some wiring as a drop ceiling was being taken down. Some wire somewhere was touching the grid and as I was climbing up the ladder I touched the grid with my side and grabbed the metal truss above me to steady myself - didn't fall but saw God for a moment, luckily he told me to stop being a panzy and go back to work.
 

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Once I was changing a ballast to a single fixture of a group of fixtures from a lift 25' up. We turned off the lights around it and I replaced the ballast. When I put the bulbs back in, wow they came on! This was a nightlight by itself from all around it. Good thing I followed the rule to always assume it is on even if you "know" it is off. Thank goodness for the non-contact testers we have nowdays.
 

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Another time I plugged in a metal grounded drop light to a plug on old cloth romex (1940's). Unbeknownst to me someone had jumped what they thought was the neutral to the ground screw( not a GFCI). On that old insulation one cannot easily tell which is white. I carried the light up and started to crawl over the grounded furnace. POW! I was holding onto the hot light frame when I grounded out on the furnace. They got a free hole in the ceiling as well as testing the effective ground on the furnace.
 

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At a 480Y/277 panel, circuits 1,3,5 closed in for temp lighting during construction. The right side circuits 2, 4, 6 on down the line with wires landed, all in the 'off' position. My job: remove 2,4,6 wires and run them to the load side a lightning contactor. Then wire the line side back to each breaker (somebody forgot to do this) As I removed brown #2 is ZAPPED the heck out of me. Wiggy to ground--277V! orange and yellow also. Remember breakers all 'off' on this side. They found a j-box in the attic that had 1,3,5-N and 2,4,6-N same conduit HR with all the browns tied together and orange tied together as well as the yellows. So how many of us see a breaker in the 'off' position but still check for voltage?..I know your 'spost-to but that was my screw-up!
 

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Long story but I'll try to shorten it. (Pun intended)

10 story parking garage with two additional basement levels..
Location: Texas Medical Center.
Attempting to replace a 3 pole bolt in breaker in a live panel on the lowest basement level.
480 volt panel, 3 phase, 200 amp, no main breaker.
Got the old breaker out no problem.
Couldn’t find my insulated holding screwdriver.
While putting in the new breaker, one of the screws fell out, (this was before breakers came with captured screws.
Tried to get the screw out with a non insulated screw driver.
Bad decision.
The arc flash was the brightest blue/white basket ball size light I have ever seen.
The flash actually blinded me for several minutes.
Working partner had to lead me up two flights of stairs to get outside.
Took several minutes before my vision first began to come back, grey light, then very blurry color light.
Boom was deafening.
My face shield was plastered with what was molten metal, burnt and slightly melted on one corner.
I almost didn’t put it on, had to make a second trip to the truck and saw it laying in the back, guess I should wear it.
Hair between the cuffs of my hot gloves to my rolled up sleeves, gone, FRC clothing.
Face and neck felt and looked like I was sun burned.
Eyes felt like someone rubbed sand in them, sorta like welding burn.
The fault blew an 800 amp fuse in the hospital that fed the garage.
10 story parking garage, no lights, peogle trapped in the elevators, parking gates not operational, no in, no out.
This as at shift change.
Survived all that and never received an electrical shock.

Now the scary part.
That night I woke up in a dripping wet sweat.
I saw the flash and heard the boom again while sleeping.
Scared the b'Jesus out of me.
Second night after the incident I woke up again, this time I only heard the boom.

That was 30 years ago.

Think of that incident every time I have to open a live panel.
Paranoid? No just extremely cautious since that day.

Thankfully the attitudes of employers towards working in live panels has changed.
Jobs here now require a safety review and at least three responsible persons to sign off on the task.
No one wants to be held responsible, so the work now gets scheduled for a time when the panel can be de-energized.
Previously, may years ago, the attitude was, "what you chicken or scared?"

Now my reply is, "if something happens to me, you're going to have to make "service" calls to my wife and you don't want to see her naked".
 

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At a 480Y/277 panel, circuits 1,3,5 closed in for temp lighting during construction. The right side circuits 2, 4, 6 on down the line with wires landed, all in the 'off' position. My job: remove 2,4,6 wires and run them to the load side a lightning contactor. Then wire the line side back to each breaker (somebody forgot to do this) As I removed brown #2 is ZAPPED the heck out of me. Wiggy to ground--277V! orange and yellow also. Remember breakers all 'off' on this side. They found a j-box in the attic that had 1,3,5-N and 2,4,6-N same conduit HR with all the browns tied together and orange tied together as well as the yellows. So how many of us see a breaker in the 'off' position but still check for voltage?..I know your 'spost-to but that was my screw-up!
Replacing a bad 30A 3-pole safety switch on a rooftop AC unit, unit was single phase but supplied w/ 208 3Ø, turned off the breaker down below, a Zinsco 50A 3 pole bolt-on, went on the roof & started disconnecting everything, never tested prior so when the screwdriver shank touched the steel attached to the handle lighting things up, turned out one pole of the Zinsco breaker never disconnected power. Lucky for me the only thing damaged was the screwdriver. Another case study why one should always test prior to commencing to work.
 

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I put a 120/12 transformer in backwards. Another time i was straightening up a panel and i heard that hollow sounding "pop!" After pulling the meter, i found that the previous individual had split-bolted the se conductors when they scooched the panel over a couple feet. The bolts were barely insulated and i could see copper. I treat everything as if it's rigged to kill me.
 

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Ha Ha, once I got really drunk in Waikiki and drove towards home in sad state. On that really winding back road downhill to Wailua I fell asleep, went off the road , between two ironwood tree's, thru the irrigation ditch, and car came to a stop in the cane field. While I and my passengers were more or less groggily getting ourselves out of that car, the sugar cane caught underneath the car on fire. I burned a whole cane field down. The police did not arrest me, they drove us home. And lectured me of course the whole way about drunk driving. It was 1978 and I just finished rewiring officer Burke's house for beer money. Officer Burke was in charge of the whole North Shore police squad. No DUI arrest. Also my passenger , well his dad was chief of security for Wailua Sugar so I didn't have to pay back the sugar company for ruining a nice harvest. And the Wailua fire department? Oh yea, that was Dean F_____, my landlord. LOL. All's well that ends well. In another ten years I gave up drinking all together . Ah the good ole days on the North Shore of Oahu........
 

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I don’t know how but a guy I was working with wired up a 4 wire clothes dryer outlet as wrong as wrong can be. When I turned on the breaker (with dryer plugged in) sparks were shooting out of the exterior dryer vent. Good times. Surprisingly the dryer still worked once he landed the hots and grounds on the correct terminals.
 

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I tugged a green wire in a Panduit once and it fell out.

Oh yea it was bare on the end and fell out across a 600 amp main breaker line side hitting a three phases. Shut down half the bread plant with ovens full. Lucky I had just taught a class on electric to the plant mechanics and told them.
" sooner or later you will short something out, when you do you will say ah S__t, then look around to see if any one saw you"
When they ran over they asked If I was OK. Did I say ah S__t. And did I look around.
I said yes to all three and we were able to get ovens up and they sped up the conveyors in the ovens till bread looked right. Glad I was on there good side and had bought coffee and doughnuts to class for everyone.

Cowboy
 
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Once, in the dark, I put a jumper in the wrong spot in the secondary of a 12KV/120/240V control power transformer. Filled the control/switchgear room and half the plant with magic smoke.
I bet the plant wasn't the only thing you filled.. ;)
 

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Time for another story, youngun's.
I was a first year apprentice working with a journeyman on a remodel job.
We were remodeling the courtrooms on the 5th and 6th floors of the Family Law Center in downtown Houston.
This building is where child custody hearings and divorces were held.
There were often just divorced nice looking ladies with revenge in their minds and big checks in their hands, oh, wait, wrong forum.

We were turning on the courtroom lights when we realized a j-box above the ceiling was not made up.
12 foot high, spline ceiling, 12" x 12" tiles, beautiful ceiling, took the ceiling guys weeks to put it all up.
Set up a 12 foot ladder that just barely fit under the ceiling.
Opened the tiles and found the j-box.
First the jounyman climbed the ladder and checked all the wires for voltage with his Wiggy.
He climbed down and stated everything was off, make them up color to color and number to number.
Up I go.
Had to stand on the top of the ladder to reach the box.
First few connections, no problem, grabbed that one wire and got the B'Jesus knocked out of me.
My body curled up and I kicked the ladder out from under myself, this was not intentional.
As I was falling I grabbed the ceiling and hung on.
As the ceiling was coming apart, they managed to get the ladder back under me.
Ceiling was a wreck but I survived.
Journeyman then put his Wiggy in a receptacle that we know was live and you guessed it, the Wiggy didn't work.
He took it apart and found the hair thin wire from the solenoid to the leads was broken.
A Wiggy was on my apprentice tool list when I first started but we were not allowed to use them at that level.
I went home that afternoon and threw mine away and have never used one since.
I had a multimeter at the house from building Heath kit radios, and began using it.
I was told as an apprentice I could not have it on the job, once others heard the story they quit bugging me about it.
To this day I rarely use anyone else's meter, especially if I see them pull it out of tool bag or box with no protective case on it.
A meter is your life insurance policy, treat it as such.
If I see an electrician without a protective case on their meter I wonder, if he doesn't care about his equipment, that could save his own life, will he even care about anything else?
And now you know why you should always check your meter on a know live source before testing the circuit you are going to work on.

And if anyone is curious, Wiggy type meters are not allowed in the refineries and chemical plants along the Houston Ship Channel.
 

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Time for another story, youngun's.
I was a first year apprentice working with a journeyman on a remodel job.
We were remodeling the courtrooms on the 5th and 6th floors of the Family Law Center in downtown Houston.
This building is where child custody hearings and divorces were held.
There were often just divorced nice looking ladies with revenge in their minds and big checks in their hands, oh, wait, wrong forum.

We were turning on the courtroom lights when we realized a j-box above the ceiling was not made up.
12 foot high, spline ceiling, 12" x 12" tiles, beautiful ceiling, took the ceiling guys weeks to put it all up.
Set up a 12 foot ladder that just barely fit under the ceiling.
Opened the tiles and found the j-box.
First the jounyman climbed the ladder and checked all the wires for voltage with his Wiggy.
He climbed down and stated everything was off, make them up color to color and number to number.
Up I go.
Had to stand on the top of the ladder to reach the box.
First few connections, no problem, grabbed that one wire and got the B'Jesus knocked out of me.
My body curled up and I kicked the ladder out from under myself, this was not intentional.
As I was falling I grabbed the ceiling and hung on.
As the ceiling was coming apart, they managed to get the ladder back under me.
Ceiling was a wreck but I survived.
Journeyman then put his Wiggy in a receptacle that we know was live and you guessed it, the Wiggy didn't work.
He took it apart and found the hair thin wire from the solenoid to the leads was broken.
A Wiggy was on my apprentice tool list when I first started but we were not allowed to use them at that level.
I went home that afternoon and threw mine away and have never used one since.
I had a multimeter at the house from building Heath kit radios, and began using it.
I was told as an apprentice I could not have it on the job, once others heard the story they quit bugging me about it.
To this day I rarely use anyone else's meter, especially if I see them pull it out of tool bag or box with no protective case on it.
A meter is your life insurance policy, treat it as such.
If I see an electrician without a protective case on their meter I wonder, if he doesn't care about his equipment, that could save his own life, will he even care about anything else?
And now you know why you should always check your meter on a know live source before testing the circuit you are going to work on.

And if anyone is curious, Wiggy type meters are not allowed in the refineries and chemical plants along the Houston Ship Channel.
Oh boy, we're going to have the Wiggy debate again. I use a Knopp myself, and years ago developed a protocol of known live, test circuit, known live, long before I knew this was an actual thing guys were trained to do. I do this with all of my test meters, not just my Knopp.
 
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