NIOSH Recommends Interventions to Prevent Electrocutions, Electric Shocks Involving Metal Ladders & Power Lines


NIOSH Update:

Contact: Christina Bowles (202) 245-0633
October 17, 2007

Practical recommendations for preventing job-related electrocution or electrical shock from unintended contact of metal ladders with power lines in outdoor work are made by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) in a new publication, Workplace Solutions: Preventing Worker Deaths and Injuries from Contacting Overhead Power Lines with Metal Ladders.

From 1992-2005, at least 154 workers died of work-related electrocution that occurred while working around overhead power lines and using metal ladders. Available data showed that Hispanic workers appeared to be at higher risk of a fatal injury than other worker populations. While Hispanic workers comprised only 11 percent of the workforce during this period, they accounted for 36 deaths, 23 percent of the overall total.

Work-related deaths and injuries involving metal ladders and power lines are preventable. To view and download the complete Workplace Solutions document, visit:

The new Workplace Solutions provides employers with recommendations for controlling hazards when they are setting-up the worksite and when work is being done at the worksite. It also lays out steps for workers to take to help reduce their risk of electrocution when performing their job. In addition to these recommendations, the document also outlines suggestions for general contractors and ladder manufacturers as well.

“We are always working on new ways to extend our research into applications in the workplace and this publication highlights our efforts to address the issue from both the employer and the worker perspective,” said NIOSH Director John Howard, M.D. “This new publication is an important tool for eliminating the hazards faced by outdoor workers, especially Hispanic workers who are a growing segment of the service sector workforce.”

In addition to recommendations for making the worksite safer, the document also highlights the need for additional steps to protect Hispanic workers, who appear to be at greater risk of fatal injury according to the data. This includes performing worksite surveys, implementing hazard controls, and identifying additional safety measures for workers whose primary language is not English.

For more information on NIOSH research and recommendations, visit

Page last reviewed: August 6, 2012