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Self-employed carpentry specialist electrocuted when he contacted energized public utility powerline in Massachusetts.

Massachusetts Department of Health
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 92MA003, 1992 May; :1-7
A 25 year old male self-employed carpentry specialist (victim) was electrocuted after he contacted an overhead energized public utility power line. The victim and an employee had been applying new siding to a private multi-family dwelling and were nearing completion of the project. In the course of dismantling pump jack scaffolding, both men were manning a single 30 foot aluminum staging pole specifically in the effort to avoid both damage to the dwelling AND contact with the powerlines. While both men were apparently succeeding in their efforts to do so, either difficulty in uprighting the staging pole or a gust of wind caused the staging pole to sway resulting in contact with the inner most power distribution line located some 70 inches from the dwelling itself. The point of contact was 13.8 kV line to line with 7,967 volts line to ground. Staging pole contact with the powerline provided a path to ground for the electrical current shocking the employee who was able to break free, yet electrocuting the victim who did not break contact in time to survive. The Massachusetts FACE Investigator concluded that employers should: 1. Ensure and enforce strict compliance with established Federal and/or State regulations requiring pre-project electrical system assessments and safeguarding measures for protection of employees engaged in work in close proximity to energized powerlines. 2. Develop, or revise when applicable, safety rules and procedures that address working in close proximity to energized overhead powerlines. 3. Investigate alternative use of non-conductive staging members when performing tasks in close proximity to high voltage hazards. 4. Utilize personal protective equipment to eliminate or minimize exposure to possible high voltage hazards. In addition, public utilities should: 5. Investigate, or revise when applicable, placement or protection of potentially hazardous utilities in close proximity to places of residence or business, such as underground placement, placement of utility lines further from building., permanent insulation, etc. Consider implementation of a permit system whereby persons or firms engaged in general exterior renovation and/or repair must notify public utility prior to commencement of work.
Region-1; 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-hazards; Electrical-safety; Electricity; Safety-programs; Electrocutions; Personal-protection; Protective-equipment; Construction-industry; Construction-workers; Construction-equipment
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-92MA003; Cooperative-Agreement-Number-U60-CCU-108704
SIC Code
Source Name
National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health
Performing Organization
Massachusetts Department of Health
Page last reviewed: September 2, 2020
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division