A tree trimming crew was en route to a jobsite when they noticed that trees had fallen over a 4,000-volt powerline in front of a radio tower. The damage had been caused by Hurricane Hugo. Since all the powerlines in the area had been de-energized, the crew leader decided to clear the area in front of the radio tower. The crew cut and pruned the trees to clear the area, and upon finishing, returned to the truck while the crew leader made a final inspection of the work area. Crew members heard their leader cry out and ran to the worksite, where they found him lying on his back. No vital signs could be detected. Investigation revealed that although the powerlines had been de-energized, a gas station was using a portable gas-powered electric generator to supply electrical power to the gas pumps. Since the main circuit breaker at the gas station had not been opened, electrical current from the generator flowed back through the transformer and energized the powerline at the work area. When the victim contacted the powerline, his body provided a path to ground and he was electrocuted. NIOSH investigators concluded that, in order to prevent future similar occurrences, employers and employees must: 1) ensure that workers assigned the task of clearing debris from downed powerlines identify and treat all downed powerlines and any debris in contact with these lines as energized, unless these lines have been tested and grounded on both sides of the work area by qualified workers; 2) institute a comprehensive electrical safety program for both company workers and members of the general public regarding the hazards of feedback electrical energy from portable electric generators, in addition; 3) state and local governments should consider legislation that would require electrical disconnect devices to be present at all locations where portable electric generators are used.
Region-2; Accident-prevention; Accidents; Electric-power-transmission-lines; Electrical-hazards; Electrical-shock; Electrical-workers; Injuries; Injury-prevention; Occupational-accidents; Occupational-hazards; Occupational-safety-programs; Safety-education; Safety-measures; Safety-practices; Safety-programs; Traumatic-injuries