Washington: Two Electrocutions in 2 Weeks Are a Reminder of Hazards Posed by Power Lines

Sept. 29, 2011
The Washington Department of Labor & Industries (L&) is investigating two separate deaths within 2 weeks involving workers electrocuted by high voltage power lines. While the incidents remain under investigation, the agency is using them to remind workers and employers of the hazards associated with working around power lines.

On Sept. 6, Terry Milbrad, an employee of American Landscape, was working on a private Mercer Island residence, cutting branches on a tree, when he came into contact with a power line carrying 7,200 volts and was electrocuted. On Sept. 19, Curtis Roderick, an employee with Furrer Construction, was on an aerial lift power washing a silo in Woodland when he contacted a 7,200-volt power line and was electrocuted.

Most high-voltage deaths in Washington state do not involve power line workers, but rather workers whose jobs place them near power lines, such as construction workers, roofers, tree trimmers, agriculture workers, truck drivers or mobile equipment operators.

While line workers undergo extensive training to work near power lines, most other workers who find themselves near these hazards do not have that level of training or experience, and may not recognize the dangers of electrocution if they or their equipment comes into contact with an overhead line.

To prevent electrocutions, L&I offers these suggestions:

· Make sure workers are trained to recognize and prevent hazards.

· Maintain a safe distance from all power lines, at least 10 feet and sometimes more for voltage levels exceeding 50,000 volts.

· Keep equipment at least 10 feet from power lines and use a trained person as a spotter.

· If the work is within 10 feet, contact the utility company and see if they will de-energize and ground the power lines.

· Install electronic warning devices on cranes and other equipment that can warn you when you come too close to an energized line.

More information can be found at http://www.Lni.wa.gov/safety under “e” for electrical rules.

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