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Power company worker electrocuted in underground utility vault in Georgia, March 11, 1988.

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 88-16, 1988 Sep; :1-7
The case of a 35 year old male cable splicer who was electrocuted when he contacted an energized pipe that was connected to a 220 volt sump pump was examined. The victim was a lead cable splicer employed by a power company with about 14,000 employees. The company had a safety and health department, an industrial hygiene department, a written safety policy, and specific written procedures for electrical work and confined space entry. The site of the incident was an underground transformer vault located in the downtown area of a large city. The vault housed eight 480 volt transformers. Two 220 volt sump pumps were originally installed to remove water that accumulates in the vault; an effective electrical ground was not provided. About 5 years before the current incident an electrical short circuit developed inside one of the pump motors, blowing the fuses and deenergizing the pumps. The company did not repair the pumps, but periodically pumped water from the vault with truck mounted pumps. The fuse box, pumps, wiring, and piping were not removed. Two power company employees were sent to inspect the circuit protectors on the transformers in the vault. The victim apparently contacted an energized component of the sump pump with his right hand and the steel ladder with his left. It is noted that the sump pumps and pump wiring no longer in use should have been removed and disconnected. The company should reassess its decision not to keep the sump pumps operable. Employers should ensure that each metal piece of equipment that is not designed to conduct electricity be permanently and continuously bonded to a grounding system.
NIOSH-Author; FACE-88-16; Region-4; Accident-analysis; Work-practices; Safety-research; Electrical-shock; Electrical-workers; Electrical-hazards; Confined-spaces
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Field Studies; Fatality Assessment and Control Evaluation
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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