Subcontractor Removing Shrubbery for Building Decommissioning Damages Lights, Exposing Wiring
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Type:  Lessons Learned

Publisher:  Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (Richland WA), Richland, WA (PNNL)

Published As:  Public

Date: 

Topics:  Electrical, Work Management/Planning, Excavation, Hazardous Energy Control

As part of the preparation to demolish the Research Technology Laboratory (RTL), PNNL enlisted a subcontractor that was already on campus for another job to remove shrubbery along the perimeter of the building. Irrigation would no longer be available for the landscaping, creating a potential fire hazard. The staff planning the work were aware of legacy landscape lighting and associated underground lighting conduits in areas near the shrubbery. The lights were known to have been non-working for years. The subcontractor was directed to remove the shrubs with hand tools or the like, avoiding the light fixtures and underground conduits, which were a potential, yet minor, electrical hazard. During a walkdown of the job site after the first day of work, a construction manager found five of the light fixtures had been contacted during the work.

Lessons Learned: When planning work, take the extra steps necessary to identify and plan mitigations for all hazards prior to the commencement of work and recognize that legacy facilities and equipment may present unexpected hazards. Consider the use of engineered controls for all sources of hazardous energy, even when considered low risk. Provide adequate pre-job briefings with explicit instructions for subcontractors, especially those that may lack familiarity with requirements that apply to work for PNNL.

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