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Building renovation contractor electrocuted when scaffold contacted 8,000 volt overhead power line.

Minnesota Department of Health
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 95MN042, 1995 Oct; :1-5
A 23-year-old male building renovation contractor (victim) was electrocuted when a steel scaffold contacted an overhead power line. The victim and a coworker were tuck pointing the exterior of a two-story brick building. They had completed the removal of loose mortar from a portion of the building's west wall. The tubular steel scaffold consisted of five individual sections stacked on top of each other. The victim and the coworker rolled the scaffold on casters along the side of a building. Parallel to the side of the building was an 8,000 volt overhead power line. The scaffold was moved to the north end of the building wall and was being moved around a corner and up onto an asphalt parking area. The scaffold had to be raised approximately six inches from the ground up onto the asphalt. The victim walked backward and pulled on the scaffold while the coworker pushed it across the ground. When they reached the corner of the building, the scaffold was turned and positioned at an angle with respect to the building. The victim lifted the leading edge of the scaffold to get the caster closest to the asphalt onto the asphalt . When he lifted the front of the scaffold, the scaffold corner nearest the power line contacted the line. A path to ground was completed through the victim and he was electrocuted. Two employees in the building heard a loud noise when the power line burst and saw the victim on the ground immediately after the incident occurred. They placed a call to emergency medical personnel and then ran outside and began cardiopulmonary resuscitation. Emergency medical personnel arrived within several minutes and transported the victim to a local hospital where he died about one hour later. MN FACE investigators concluded that to reduce the likelihood of similar occurrences, employers should: 1. contact the local electrical utility to assist or provide guidance whenever work is performed in the vicinity of overhead power lines; 2. provide extendable aerial platforms instead of fixed scaffolding whenever possible; and 3. ensure employees follow safe work practices whenever working near overhead power lines or with materials which may contact overhead power lines.
Region-5; Accident-analysis; Accident-prevention; Accidents; Injuries; Injury-prevention; Traumatic-injuries; Work-operations; Work-analysis; Work-areas; Work-performance; Work-practices; Safety-education; Safety-equipment; Safety-measures; Safety-monitoring; Protective-measures; Electric-properties; Electrical-conductivity; Electrical-hazards; Electrical-insulation; Electrical-resistance; Electrical-safety; Electrical-shock; Electricity; Electrocutions; Scaffolds; Construction; Construction-workers
Publication Date
Document Type
Field Studies; Fatality Assessment and Control Evaluation
Funding Type
Cooperative Agreement
Fiscal Year
Identifying No.
FACE-95MN042; Cooperative-Agreement-Number-U60-CCU-507283
SIC Code
Source Name
National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health
Performing Organization
Minnesota Department of Health
Page last reviewed: September 2, 2020
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division