During the fall of 2003, a 53- year-old construction worker was electrocuted at a rural road construction site. A six man crew was on site that day, preparing to install a box culvert. The victim was working with a boom forklift operator to prepare a submersible pump for removing water from the work area. They had unloaded the pump from a pickup truck and had it suspended from the forklift with an 18 ft. (5.4 m) steel cable. The victim first untangled the hydraulic lines that were wrapped around the pump during transportation. The forklift operator was talking to him through the front window of the forklift, and asked if he was clear of the electric lines, and the victim gave him the thumbs-up sign. Suddenly, while they were talking, the forks came in contact with the overhead power lines, and the victim was electrocuted. As he was standing on the ground, hanging onto the two hydraulic lines, the electric current passed through the steel cable, the pump, and the steel mesh lining of the hydraulic lines to reach the victim and the ground. The man was killed instantly, and the hydraulic lines began arcing into dry grass and started a fire. This fire spread to the forklift and a portable power unit for the pump. The forklift operator initially stayed in his machine, then jumped free from the forklift as instructed in prior training, and was uninjured. When firefighters arrived, the victim was lying on the ground in the middle of the fire with the forklift near, but not touching, the power lines. Recommendations based on our investigation are as follows: 1. Employers should comply with applicable OSHA regulations when using machines near energized power lines. 2. Contractors who will be using lifting equipment near power lines should call the local power company to request that insulators or cover-ups be placed on the lines where they will be working. 3. Site supervisors and machinery operators should consider safer alternatives and take extra precaution when working near overhead power lines.
Region-7; 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; Equipment-operators; Equipment-reliability; Construction; Construction-equipment; Construction-industry; Construction-workers; Electrical-conductivity; Electrical-hazards; Electrical-safety; Electrical-transmission; Electricity; Electrocutions; Road-construction