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Electrical Hazards – Anatomy of an Accident

I believe that your workplace can be incident free.

A crew of four linemen were installing intermediate poles on an existing single phase 14.4 KV distribution line.

  • One of the journeymen and the apprentice were belted off below the neutral bracket on a newly installed pole, using hot sticks to tie off the energized conductor.  Another journeyman on the ground was using a hold-down to keep the conductor in place while the wrap lock tie was installed.
  • After asking the apprentice to move to the other side of the pole, the journeyman on the pole began to make the first wrap on the conductor.  But…he began this before the apprentice was fully in place and had secured the wrap with a hot stick.
  • The unsecured conductor rolled out of the insulator, fell, and contacted the journeyman’s left wrist.  Trying to catch his balance, his right arm contacted either the neutral bracket or the pole.
  • As a result of the current flowing through his body, the journeyman lost his left arm and suffered severe burns over his back and right arm.

Findings of the investigating committee:

  • The primary emphasis was on production and not on safety.
  • There had been no communication with the utility or employer.
  • The neutral conductor was in the primary zone instead of being tagged down and out.
  • No clearance from the Utility to work on energized primary, the day of the accident.
  • Workers did not place the oil circuit re-closure into the non-recluse position.
  • The wire was not held in place with hot sticks while making hot tie.
  • The foreman did not wait for the apprentice to get back on wire after changing his position on the pole.

Committee Recommendations:

  • Obtain clearance from utility prior to commencement of hot work.
  • Place circuit re-closures on “non-reclose” prior to commencing work.
  • Leave grounds and neutrals out of the work area.  If not possible, cover them.
  • Maintain positive control of energized conductors at all times, with appropriate tools.
  • Plan ahead and discuss all moves with your pole partner before commencing work.
  • Maintain good communication with the utility and the employer.
  • Keep current on pole-top rescue and all safe practices.

What is the Lesson here?

  • If you work with electricity, no matter how experienced you are, what must you remember?
  • What other hazards do you work with?
  • Could you become casual and careless about these?

STS Solutions, Inc., Solutions to Enable Safe Working Environments.

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