NIOSHTIC-2 Publications Search

City foreman electrocuted and 3 crew workers critically injured while erecting a traffic control pole.

Morgantown, WV: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Public Health Service, Centers for Disease Control, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, FACE 85-17, 1985 May; :1-6
A case study of an electrocution resulting from the installation of a traffic control pole was examined. A crew of four from a city traffic engineering department prepared a foundation excavation approximately 3 by 3 by 6 feet deep for the pole at a 4 way intersection. The crew encountered a water main at a depth of 3.5 feet during the excavation. A wooden box was erected inside the excavation to keep the water main from being embedded in concrete upon setting the pole. The foundation excavation was approximately 3 feet horizontal from the edge of the street pavement and was located under a 3 phase 26 kiloVolt (kV) overhead power line. On the morning of the accident, the crew arrived to erect the 36 feet long pole, which was attached to a pole digger derrick truck. A field supervisor who arrived at the scene felt that the derrick truck was obstructing traffic and began directing traffic at the intersection. The pole was hoisted, placed into position over the hole, and the butt end of the pole was lowered approximately 3.5 feet into the hole just above the wood form protecting the water main. The pole came into contact with the bottom phase of the overhead 3 phase 26kV power line as the derrick truck operator lowered the pole. The contact of the pole to the 26kV power line resulted in the fatal electrocution of the supervisor, and critical injuries to the other three crew members on the ground. The authors recommend that employers should enforce existing regulations concerning crane operations, enforce policies and procedures concerning specialized tasks, hold management and first line supervisory personnel responsible for job site safety, provide thorough training to personnel assigned to perform specific tasks, and ensure that engineering and design personnel be aware of problems concerning field work activities.
NIOSH-Author; Engineering; Safety-monitoring; Industrial-hazards; Electrical-industry; Safety-measures; Safety-equipment; Occupational-hazards; Electrical-properties; Hazardous-materials; Region-4; FACE-85-17
Publication Date
Document Type
Field Studies; Fatality Assessment and Control Evaluation
Fiscal Year
NTIS Accession No.
NTIS Price
Identifying No.
NIOSH Division
SIC Code
Source Name
National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health
Page last reviewed: September 2, 2020
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division