Worker burned in RB construction accident

Heating company service tech hospitalized

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A heating and cooling company employee suffered electrical burns in a construction-related accident last week at Riverside-Brookfield High School.

Riverside paramedics were called to the high school, 160 Ridgewood Road in Riverside, around 8:35 a.m. Fire department personnel found the man, who had burns over his left arm, standing along Golf Avenue near the northwest corner of the campus where a new administration/entrance wing is being built.

Assistant Fire Chief John Buckley called the burns "significant." The man, who has not been identified, was taken to Loyola University Medical Center in Maywood.

"They appeared to be burns from an electrical flash," said Buckley, who added that the victim was alert and answering questions at the time paramedics arrived on the scene. "It was probably an electrical arc, which is consistent with flash burns, which is what happened."

Ralph Pound, vice president of risk management for McHugh Construction, the general contractor for the RB expansion/renovation project, said the victim was an employee of the Martin Petersen Company, a mechanical contracting firm based in Kenosha, Wis.

"He was not an electrician," Pound said. "He was working on a temporary boiler and was attempting to remove fuses from an electrical panel in the boiler at the time of the incident."

The boiler was not in use at the time of the accident, Pound said. The victim, a service technician, was attempting to put the boiler into temporary service.

Pound said he was told the man would be released from the hospital some time last weekend, but was unsure of the man's condition. Pound said he had heard conflicting stories of the man receiving anywhere from first- to third-degree burns.

Calls to John Donnell, the president of the Martin Petersen Company, were not returned.

As a result of the accident, a portion of the high school lost power for "about five minutes," according to Buckley.

At no time was there any danger to students or to other workers, Buckley said. The man was reportedly working alone at the time of the accident.

"We investigated the building and the basement to see if there were any other problems," Buckley said. "In less than 10 minutes we were sure there was no problem."

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