Handling of energized tracers involves electrical and thermal hazards

While performing mechanical maintenance, a contractor received an electric shock while handling an energized self-limiting heating cable that was being removed from a pipeline to facilitate replacement of a pump. The circuit did not have ground fault protection which, depending on the nature and location of the damage, would have tripped the breaker. Even for qualified personnel, handling of energized tracer requires precautions such as a pre-handling and constant check for physical damage and use of proper personnel protection equipment (gloves).

Use of bare hand to check for operation of an electric heating cable is not a good practice similar to "test before touch" practice in electrical systems

The lesson learned here was the type of cable used was a high-temperature heating tape that requires extra care in handling - that also means extra care in inspection before use.

A broken shoulder and near electrocution was the result of bare hand contact with an energized tracer. While checking a tracer for operation, the person passed the right side of the hand along the tracer to check for heat. The left hand was in contact with steel tubing to provide stability. While passing the hand along the back side of the heating tape (out-of-sight), the hand contacted a "knot" in the heater bus wire that protruded through the woven insulation, placing 120 VAC from right hand, through the chest cavity and out the left hand of the person to the grounded metal tubing. The resulting current froze the person the circuit preventing release. The person was able to push back from a short ladder to break the circuit. The fall resulted in a broken shoulder and hospitalization.