I'm telling this two-part story as it may save some reader from a nasty shock or worse. I'm a Mechanical Engineer with a very low level of electrical savvy; however, out of necessity, I have done some basic car and home wiring. When it comes to transistors, frequency generators and other such electrical components, I'm totally mystefied. 1. I have a small metal cutting lathe at home which I upgraded the 1/2 H.P. electric motor to a full 1 H.P. motor. Somehow while wiring up the new motor I realized that the motor was mounted on a pivot plate bolted to the wooden bench while the power switch was mounted to the metal lathe. This means that the motor was not grounded, and if it ever shorted to its frame and I reached over and touched the metal tensioning lever with one hand and kept my other hand on the lathe, I could receive a jolt of 110 AC volts through my chest. To rectify this, I simply ran a green grounding wire from the switchbox grounding screw through the flexible conduit to the motor frame grounding screw. 2. One month later, I read in a trade magazine that an air conditioning service man was replacing a fan motor on an industiral size unit. The existing motor was a replacement for the original put in by another serviceman and was not properly grounded. When the man reached in through the access port and touched the motor, his upper body was in contact with the metal housing and he received a fatal shock.
In my earlier years, I was a project engineer for a large radio communications equipment manufacturer. In that capacity, I designed several different r.f. amplifiers with output powers ranging from 400 watts to 10Kwatts. To achieve those outputs, required PLATE voltages from 500V DC to 5KV DC. One learns in one heck of a hurry that you not only place your weaker hand & arm behind your back, BUT you get one of your technicians to physically tie it there w/ rope designed to hold the U.S.S Forrestal @ the pier. There are NO 2nd chances w/ this level of DC power, considering that it is NOT only the voltage, but also the current. Typical plate current for a 1Kwatt transmitter is in the order of amperes. For a 10Kwatt transmitter, it's in the order of tens of amperes!
I too have been bit by my wedding ring - once. Learned to put it in my pocket when working on equipment, live or not. Capacitors can sometimes stay charged for a bit with the power off.
My other pet peeve is the way tie wraps are sometimes carelessly installed. When one is working on live equipment as a necessary part of troubleshooting, a prick on the back of your hand can cause one to instinctively back out in a hurry. If the prick is from a poorly cut off tie wrap, a nasty gash can appear on the back of your hand.
Very early in my career I learned the trick of touching things very lightly before grabbing them firmly. That way there is only a tingle when touching something that is not off. In many places I also would use a shorting probe to ground the circuits that I needed to touch, which has saved me from shocks a few times. The third trick is using one of those neon circuit testers, but holding the bulb between my fingers. That will show higher voltage AC and demonstrate the need for additional checking prior to touching.
The high voltage in transmitters is a totally different situation though, and must be dealt fith far more carefully than even the 480 volt AC circuits. After you are certain that everything is off and discharged, then use the meter and extended probe to check again!
MY guess about the tale is that there was a small bit of "attitude problem" that provoked the tech to not mention that the switch was failed. Most techs are far more decent than that.
Lock out tag out. Always find a more secure way to de-energize a device before inserting body parts and/or tools into said equipment!
And do use a "Jesus stick", grounding hook, to secure the potentially hot connections to ground potential.
I think I've written, in the past, about the common sense practice of never trusting anyone else to de-energize a circuit you're going to be working on. A faulty switch, circuit breaker or a wrong label is all it takes!
If I'm in unfamiliar territory I always use a DVM to check for voltages that should not be there. Pressing lightly with your fingers might not do you much harm at 120VAC, but not at 230 VAC. Better to use an AC voltage sniffer or DVM than your flesh. And for HV circuits, ground them with the stick! If its still hot, the flash, the bang and the words you'll utter will explain the safety device name I used in paragraph #2 above.
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