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Department of Public Works employee electrocuted attempting to read a water meter located behind an apartment boiler.

Michigan State University
Morgantown, WV: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Public Health Service, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, FACE 03MI079, 2004 Feb; :1-7
On June 30, 2003, a 37-year-old male Department of Public Works (DPW) employee was electrocuted while attempting to read a water meter that was located behind an apartment boiler. The boiler room was lit by one overhead 40-watt light bulb. The meter was located near ground level. There was approximately a two-foot gap between the boiler and the back wall. He placed his water meter logbook on top of the boiler. Bracketed on a water pipe near the boiler was the boiler's low water cutoff switch. It is unknown if the switch cover was on the switch when the victim tried to maneuver between the water pipes and the boiler to read the water meter. During his attempt to read the water meter, he contacted exposed, 120-volt energized low water cut-off switch terminals with his right chest. Following contact with the terminals, he collapsed and became wedged between vertical pipes coming from the boiler. The low water cutoff switch cover was found hanging under the victim's chest. A cigarette lighter was found on the floor under the body. A screwdriver, not the type used by DPW employees, and a small metal screw was found near the victim's body. He was found by an apartment complex resident who alerted an apartment complex employee. The apartment complex employee contacted 911. The power company was notified and turned the power off to the boiler room. The victim was declared dead at the scene. Recommendations: 1. DPW should establish electrical safety work practices and identify and train those employees who, under normal working conditions, are exposed to electrical hazards and have little or no electrical training in these safe work practices. 2. DPW should form a working group with area businesses to develop a method of communication to alert the DPW employees of maintenance/repair/construction efforts at the business as well as DPW employees alerting customers of unsafe conditions. 3. Additionally, city officials should consider a phase-in conversion of direct reading water meters to remote reading meters.
Accident-analysis; Accident-potential; Accident-prevention; Accidents; Injuries; Injury-prevention; Safety-education; Safety-equipment; Safety-practices; Safety-measures; Traumatic-injuries; Region-5; Work-practices; Work-analysis; Work-performance; Occupational-accidents; Occupational-hazards; Electric-properties; Electrical-hazards; Electrical-insulation; Electrical-properties; Electrical-safety; Electrical-shock; Electrical-workers; Electricity; Electrocutions
Publication Date
Document Type
Field Studies; Fatality Assessment and Control Evaluation
Funding Type
Cooperative Agreement
Fiscal Year
NTIS Accession No.
NTIS Price
Identifying No.
FACE-03MI079; Cooperative-Agreement-Number-U60-CCU-521205
SIC Code
Source Name
National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health
Performing Organization
Michigan State University
Page last reviewed: September 2, 2020
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division