Safety enhancements stem from workplace fatality

November 1, 2011

The July death of a University of Wisconsin–Madison electrician has led to several important safety procedures being reviewed and re-emphasized, safety officials reported today.

The campus community was saddened by the death of Brad Krause, who was electrocuted on July 26 while working in an attic above Mills Concert Hall in the Humanities Building.

“Workplace safety is our strong and ongoing commitment and we place a top priority on making sure we have safe practices, procedures and a culture that works to continuously improve safety conditions on the job,” says Paul Umbeck, director of the university’s Environment, Health and Safety Department.

Umbeck adds that “over the past decade, there has been a decrease in the number of reported incidents caused by contact with electricity at the university.”

The university conducted an investigation into the incident, as did the Wisconsin Department of Safety and Professional Services. Following the state review, the university is taking several safety enhancement measures.

Officials have committed to:

  • Review the Electric Shop’s existing electrical safety policy;
  • Review the personal protective equipment policy for the Electric Shop;
  • Evaluate and perform written hazard assessments for selecting personal protective equipment and use for electric shop employees;
  • Conduct more frequent refresher safety training, including a review of personal protective gear and demonstration;
  • Supervisors and campus safety officials will document a minimum of 12 work-practice observations to evaluate compliance with health and safety requirements, and,
  • Officials will arrange for first aid and cardio-pulmonary resuscitation training for electrical shop employees.

“We’re committed to do whatever is needed to avoid a recurrence of a situation like this,” says John Harrod, director of the university’s Physical Plant Department. “These measures are needed to make sure that everyone has the safest possible work environment and values a culture of safety.”

The university’s investigation of the incident found that electrically insulated gloves issued to Krause were not used while he was working on the energized equipment.

Other contributing factors in the incident, according to the university’s report, included a workspace that allowed for limited mobility and field of view. It also found that the supply power was not properly isolated before servicing equipment; equipment was being worked on in an energized state and power isolation best practices and personal protective equipment use in the field were not adhered to.