A U.S. Steel worker and his wife are suing General Electric, Sachs Electric and ICR Engineering over an alleged design defect in a General Electric product. Michael Combs was working as a maintenance electrician at US Steel's Granite City steel mill Feb. 12, 2014, when he responded to an alarm and entered the power control room to check a drive component sold by General Electric and maintained by ICR Engineering.
According to the complaint, when the cabinet door to the drive was opened, an arc flash originated from the fuses, causing third degree burns to more than 30% of Combs' body, including his head, face, neck, chest, torso, arms and hands.
The complaint states that a U.S. Steel investigation determined that a failure in the drive caused an excessive heat condition causing the metallic coating of the resistor bank guard to flake off toward the fuses, causing a phase-to-phase arc flash. According to the complaint, the placement of the resistor bank and coated guard above the fuses was an inadequate and dangerous design.
General Electric is accused of negligently designing the drive, and ICR Engineering is accused of negligently failing to warn U.S. Steel and its employees of the danger of the design.
According to the Madison St. Clair Record, GE has denied liability on a number of grounds, including that the equipment related to Combs' accident may have been altered, and that it had not been properly maintained. General Electric also claims that Combs' own negligence was a contributing factor in the accident.
Sachs Electric also denies liability, saying that Combs' injuries were caused or contributed to by his own negligence in failing to wear the correct personal protective gear, the Record reported.