Skip directly to search Skip directly to A to Z list Skip directly to site content
CDC Home

NIOSH Alert: Preventing Electrocutions During Work With Scaffolds Near Overhead Power Lines

CDC's National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) periodically issues alerts on workplace hazards that have caused death or serious injury to workers. One such alert, Preventing Electrocutions During Work with Scaffolds Near Overhead Power Lines (1), was recently released and is now available to the public. * This alert describes 13 deaths that occurred in six separate incidents when workers erected or moved scaffolds that came into contact with energized, overhead power lines or when they contacted overhead power lines with conductive tools or materials while working on scaffolds.

At least 6500 traumatic work-related deaths occur each year in the United States (2). An estimated 7% of these fatalities are electrocutions. From 1980 through 1986, at least 25 deaths resulted when workers contacted overhead power lines while erecting or moving scaffolds or while using conductive tools on scaffolds. Many occupational groups (e.g., brickmasons, carpenters, painters, construction laborers, and plasterers) are at risk for electrocution because their jobs involve working from scaffolds near overhead power lines (2).

To prevent such electrocutions, NIOSH included recommendations in the alert to be followed by employers, managers, supervisors, and workers where scaffolds and conductive tools or materials are used near overhead power lines. These recommendations include requirements mandated in current and proposed Occupational Safety and Health Administration regulations for the construction industry.


  1. NIOSH. NIOSH alert: request for assistance in preventing electrocutions during work with scaffolds near overhead power lines. Cincinnati: US Department of Health and Human Services, Public Health Service, CDC, NIOSH, 1991; DHHS publication no. (NIOSH)91-110.

  2. NIOSH. National Traumatic Occupational Fatality (NTOF) database. Morgantown, West Virginia: US Department of Health and Human Services, Public Health Service, CDC, NIOSH, Division of Safety Research, 1991.

    • Single copies of this document are available without charge from the Information Dissemination Section, Division of Standards Development and Technology Transfer, NIOSH, 4676 Columbia Parkway, Cincinnati, OH 45226; telephone (513) 533-8287.

Use of trade names and commercial sources is for identification only and does not imply endorsement by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

References to non-CDC sites on the Internet are provided as a service to MMWR readers and do not constitute or imply endorsement of these organizations or their programs by CDC or the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. CDC is not responsible for the content of pages found at these sites. URL addresses listed in MMWR were current as of the date of publication.

All MMWR HTML versions of articles are electronic conversions from typeset documents. This conversion might result in character translation or format errors in the HTML version. Users are referred to the electronic PDF version ( and/or the original MMWR paper copy for printable versions of official text, figures, and tables. An original paper copy of this issue can be obtained from the Superintendent of Documents, U.S. Government Printing Office (GPO), Washington, DC 20402-9371; telephone: (202) 512-1800. Contact GPO for current prices.

**Questions or messages regarding errors in formatting should be addressed to The U.S. Government's Official Web PortalDepartment of Health and Human Services
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention   1600 Clifton Rd. Atlanta, GA 30333, USA
800-CDC-INFO (800-232-4636) TTY: (888) 232-6348 - Contact CDC–INFO
A-Z Index
  1. A
  2. B
  3. C
  4. D
  5. E
  6. F
  7. G
  8. H
  9. I
  10. J
  11. K
  12. L
  13. M
  14. N
  15. O
  16. P
  17. Q
  18. R
  19. S
  20. T
  21. U
  22. V
  23. W
  24. X
  25. Y
  26. Z
  27. #