Many businesses rely on security cameras to monitor employee theft. Southwest Energy Systems, LLC ran across an entirely new way to figure out when employees are behaving badly.

This behavior was not as simple as a few missing pencils, and could have ended very badly.

Our company offers many forms of electrical maintenance, testing and diagnostic services. Recently a client came to us because their business was experiencing unusual equipment failures. The client operated a bakery and the ovens were operating erratically.

The oven manufacturer was called to the company, but could not find anything wrong with the equipment itself.

We were called in to provide a thorough inspection of the electrical system and provide a grounding audit. What we encountered was one of the most unusual cases of employee misconduct, and one that could have seriously injured or killed an unsuspecting worker.

One line of products the bakery produced was single-serving pies — the type sold in small aluminum-foil pans. The company made a delicious product, so much so that some employees developed a habit of stealing pies during their work shift. These workers would grab a pie and take it outside to the back of the building to sneak their treat.

In order to hide the evidence, the pie pans were then disposed of in small slot opening in the electrical service equipment. It didn’t take Southwest Energy Systems too long to trace the electrical malfunctions back to the electrical enclosure. When we opened the equipment, we found the pans — many of them.

While the employees thought they had a good way of hiding all the evidence of the pie thefts, those foil pans were building up to create a massive conductor. Just one foil pan could cause a problem, but hundreds of them together were about to become a disaster.

These pans were starting to arc across each other from the high voltage levels in the electrical equipment. The arcing was creating breaks in the power supply and breaking the proper path to ground. It was fortunate that we were called in before the situation became critical, or an employee was electrocuted by the enclosure.

Keeping random metal objects away from an electrical service may seem like common sense to anyone involved in electrical work. Unfortunately, many people are not educated about electrical dangers and others may just not care. While Southwest Energy Systems may not be able to help you stop employee theft, we can help you in making sure all of your electrical equipment is operating properly. Get in touch with us for more information on electrical maintenance and testing.