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Guardrail post pounder operator electrocuted when hammer boom contacts energized overhead electrical line.

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 02MI152, 2006 Aug; :1-11
On November 6, 2002, a 23-year old male operator of a guardrail post pounder mounted on a stake truck was electrocuted when the boom of the post pounder contacted an energized overhead power line. The state highway was oriented in a north/south direction. The contract required guardrails on the highway's east and west sides as well as guardrail placement on the south side of an intersecting road. The company had notified MISS DIG and all underground utility lines were marked. The guardrails on the west side of the highway had been set and the employees were placing guardrails on the east side. It was very windy on the day of the incident causing the overhead lines to sway in the wind. Work had progressed between 150-200 feet along the highway shoulder when, while pounding the guardrail post, the boom contacted an energized overhead 14,000 volt power line that crossed the highway in an east-west direction. The contact energized the truck and the victim received a fatal shock. He fell, breaking contact. Coworkers heard "crackling" and looked over toward the post pounder truck. They saw the victim lying on the ground, under the truck. They carefully pulled him clear from the energized truck and called for emergency responders. The victim was declared dead at the incident scene. Recommendations: 1. Conduct a jobsite survey (hazard assessment) to identify potential hazards before starting any job and implement appropriate control measures. 2. Companies working in the vicinity of overhead power lines should verify that a minimum of a 10-foot clearance could be maintained between equipment and any lines in the area. If adequate clearances cannot be guaranteed, the employer should indicate to MISS DIG that they would be working with equipment that could contact these lines. 3. Hazard awareness regarding overhead power lines should be stressed and routinely reviewed so that all employees are cognizant of these energized sources. 4. Operating controls for boomed vehicles, when designed for use from ground level, should insulate the operator from the vehicle. An Accident Prevention Program should be developed, written, and implemented in compliance with MIOSHA Construction Safety Standard requirements. 5. Company management should consider developing a joint health and safety committee.
Region-5; Accident-analysis; Accident-potential; Accident-prevention; Accidents; Injuries; Injury-prevention; Safety-education; Safety-equipment; Safety-practices; Safety-measures; Traumatic-injuries; Work-practices; Work-analysis; Work-performance; Construction; Construction-workers; Road-construction; Electric-power-transmission-lines; Electrical-hazards; Electrical-shock; 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-02MI152; 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