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IBEW Loses Sister Katharina (Kat) Engnell

The IBEW loses Sister Katharina (Kat) Engnell, a licensed journeyman electrician from Local 46 in Seattle, Washington. Engell was electrocuted and died on the job on November 20, 2008 at the Saint Gobain glass plant.

Kat Engnell was an amazing woman. Originally from the South, Kat moved to Seattle after receiving her Masters Degree in Fine Arts. She bought a beautiful home in Seattle’s Columbia City neighborhood and then decided to become an electrician. She started attending the PSEJATC Apprenticeship program in 2000.

Kat was a most humble, hard working, serious electrician. Diversity and full inclusion in the electrical industry were passions of hers. The fact that a scholarship for those seeking to become Union Trades people is being funded in her name testifies to that. If you would like to donate, please make checks or money orders payable to the Katharina Engnell Memorial Schollarship Fund, Account 471001014441 at Key Bank.

Her interests included kayaking, raising hens, collecting antiques, creating and teaching art, politics, unionism, and rocking out to hippy music. If there was a party, Kat was there having a good time. She was a fantastic mechanic, intellectual, and a bohemian all in one. All who knew her can say that her kindness and generosity were boundless. She will be missed but will live on in the memories and stories of her, and in the kindness and care we show to each other in this truly dangerous field.

There is a memorial at the job site and a memorial service will be held at the IBEW Local 46 Hall in Kent, Washington on Thursday, December 4, 2008 at 5:00 p.m.

For me, the loss of any worker on the job is tragic. But the loss of an electrician is personal.

My personal condolences to Kat’s friends and family. My thanks to Nicole Grant for this information.

Ms Sparky
IBEW Local 48
Portland, Oregon

Update: The following info was taken from IBEW Local 46 website.
This item was posted on the IBEW Local 46 web site
http://www.ibew46.com/kat.html :

IBEW Local 46 Electrician, Kat Engnell, was killed at work, Thursday,
November 20, 2008, during the day shift at the Saint Gobain glass plant. Kat
was up on a metal platform, like a catwalk, doing lighting maintenance. It
is normal to work on equipment up there while it is still ‘hot’,
unfortunately, while Kat was changing out a 500W 120V fixture, after making
sure that the ground and neutrals had both been made up, she was
electrocuted and died. She was found by a Local 46 Brother working on sight
who stayed with her body until the fire crew got her down and took her away.

The following comment was left via email by a Safety professional:

I suspect that she was not wearing rubber insulating gloves, considered by
most electricians as unnecessary and too cumbersome for this type of low
voltage work.

According to 1910 subpart S
1910.333(a)(1) “Live parts to which an employee may be exposed shall be
deenergized before the employee works on or near them….” (does not apply to
circuits of 50 volts or less)
1910.333(a)(2) “If the exposed live parts are not deenergized (i.e., for
reasons of increased or additional hazards or infeasability) other
safety-related work practices shall be employed …”
1910.335(a)(1)(i) Employees working in areas where there are potential
electrical hazards shall be provided with, and shall use, electrical
protective equipment that is appropriate for the specific parts of the body
to be protected and for the work to be performed.

NFPA 70E 2009 – Table 130.7(C)(9)
Panelboards or other equipment rated 240 volts and below
Work on energized electrical conductors or circuit parts, including voltage
testing requires the use of Rubber Insulating gloves and Insulated or
Insulating Tools.

KBR’s Big Secret….Shhhh Don’t Tell Anyone In Iraq or Afghanistan!

As you know I have been blogging about the changes in KBR’s hiring policies with regards to Electricians. They must be licensed and the salaries range from about 122-144K/year. That’s about 35-57K/yr higher than the old salaries. I am now told these changes in policy also include Licensed Plumbers and Licensed HVAC and who knows who else.

For those of us that have testified before The Senate and have been fighting for these changes this is a huge step in the right direction. But I didn’t know we were supposed to keep it a secret. Shhhh

I recently received this comment from a reader: Read the remainder of this entry »

Attention Former and Current KBR and US Military in Iraq

(Note to bloggers and website owners-Help me get this word out. Please link to this post.)

I have been contacted by a National US news program that is looking for people who are willing to share their experiences about the electrical conditions in their camps. Electrician experience is always welcome but you don’t have to be an electrician to tell your story. If you were/are in the Military the producer knows how to deal with that as well?

Can you answer any of these questions?

  • Have you ever been shocked? Or did you know of anyone that was shocked?
  • Were you in any camp that reported an accidental electrocution death such has the death of Chris Everett or Ryan Maseth?
  • What condition was your electrical in? Was is “jerry rigged”?
  • Was KBR responsive to service orders or maintenance requests?
  • Did KBR ever leave an electrical shock hazard as “not repairable”?
  • Did your electricians complain about not having the right tools or material to make a repair?
  • Were your electricians Americans?
  • Did your electricians seem competent?
  • As an electrician, were you asked/forced to work outside of your classification/area of expertise?

You may think your information is insignificant. But it could be the one piece to the puzzle that is needed. There have been 100’s of thousands of people, civilian and military, in Iraq since 2003 and yet only a handful have come forward.

It’s time to tell your story. Please forward this post to former and current KBR employees and US Military in Iraq.

Either leave a comment or send an email to mssparky@mssparky.com and ask me to forward your information to the Producer.

Ms Sparky

My Story on “The Story” Aired Today 7/29/08

With current media coverage on the Iraq Electrocutions and tomorrows hearings of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform entitled “Deficient Electrical Systems at U.S. Facilities in Iraq” they decided to air my segment of “The Story” today.

Before I give you link….I want to say the “The Story” did and awesome job. My thanks to Jeannette. But I want to clarify one thing. I did not work at the same Palace compound that Ryan Maseth died at. With that said here is the link.

Site link – The Story – July 29, 2008

MP3 – http://thestory.org/archive/the_story_569_Iraq_Electrician.mp3

Ms Sparky

My Story on “The Story” from American Public Media

Well…. today was a first. I recorded a session for “The Story” an American Public Media daily national program. I had never been in a recording studio before. Didn’t have a clue what to expect or what to do. The technician John, also a licensed electrician, walked me through the process and got me used to speaking into the microphone. THANK YOU JOHN!

My special thanks the Jeannette from The Story for holding my hand and answering all my dumb questions.

The show was primarily about Iraq and my time there. I stressed how important it is to get legislation approved to protect US workers working for US contractors overseas. The same laws that protect them here…OSHA, labor laws etc, should protect them there.

At times I felt like I was just rambling, but they said they could fix all that. I hope so.

The show is schedule to air on August 5th. I will keep you posted. For times, stations or to listen via podcast, go to their website is http://thestory.org/

Ms Sparky