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Mechanic Electrocuted when a Mobile Light Tower Contacted Powerline

New York Case Report: 12NY018

The following report is the product of our Cooperative State partner and is presented here in its original unedited form from the state. The findings and conclusions in this report are those of the individual Cooperative State partner and do not necessarily reflect the views or policy of the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health.


In May 2012, a 47-year-old maintenance mechanic of a paving company was electrocuted at a road construction site when a mobile light tower contacted a powerline. The paving company was contracted by the New York State Department of Transportation (NYSDOT) to build a roundabout intersection and reconstruct the roads leading to the roundabout. On the day of the incident, the victim was assigned to take down ten mobile light towers at the site and return them to a local rental company one at a time in a company pickup. By 9:20 AM, he had returned three light towers and started taking down the fourth. The victim was working alone on the roadside while other employees were working at a staging area. The incident was not witnessed. The light tower was positioned off the pavement on grass under a 7,620-volt powerline that was approximately 24.6 feet above the ground. For an unknown reason, the victim apparently extended the telescopic mast and raised the tower instead of retracting and lowering it. The tower came into contact with the powerline and the victim was electrocuted. The electric current ignited the diesel in the tower’s fuel tank causing an explosion and setting the light tower on fire. The other workers heard the explosion and rushed to the site. They called 911 to summon emergency services. The police and fire department responded within minutes. The fire department had to wait for the power company to turn off electricity before fighting the fire. It took approximately an hour to extinguish the fire. The victim was pronounced dead at the scene.

Mechanic Electrocuted when a Mobile Light Tower Contacted Powerline [PDF 1,024 KB]