Three People Die Every Week on the Job from Electrical Exposure: Here’s How to Stay Safe

On rural West Virginia land — in the panhandle near Wheeling — four workers from an electrical company installed conductor wire on a power distribution line. It was an afternoon in the summer, the sun shining high on the horizon. In the distance: ravines, woods, brushy vegetation, and a fence that bordered a nearby coal mine. 

The job involved pulling heavy electrical poles through the ravines and woods and vegetation to a spot where the conductor wire was needed. One worker sat inside a truck with a slowly spooling reel that pulled the pole toward it. Two workers helped to guide the pole itself through the landscape. A fourth worker carried tools. 

That’s when tragedy struck.

As the two workers guided the pole, the reel came into contact with a 7,200 volt energized primary line overhead. The two workers guiding the pole were both electrocuted. One of them died instantly. 

And the company running the operation soon found itself facing a $21,000 fine from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

Events Like These Are Not Uncommon

According to a 2018 study from the National Fire Protection Association, nearly three people died every week due to electrical exposure on the job between 2012 and 2016. The 739 worker deaths included a wide variety of industries, but nearly half — 46 percent — worked in construction and extraction occupations, and 21 percent worked in building, grounds cleaning, and maintenance occupations.

Tips for Safety Success:

  • Don’t let yourself or your employees fall victim to deadly electrical exposure on the job.
  • Inspect all equipment and cords before each use. All damaged cords shall be removed and replaced immediately.
  • Do not use extension cords as a substitute for repairing building wiring or permanent use.
  • Do not remove the prongs of an electrical plug. If the plug prongs are missing or bent, replace the entire plug.
  • Always assume overhead power lines are energized.
  • Establish a written electrical safety program that clearly defines responsibilities and policies.
  • Never stand ladders, cranes, scaffolding, or high reach equipment near power lines. Keep at least 10 feet away from all power lines.
  • When digging into the ground, ensure to call One Call at 811 to locate underground utility lines.
  • Avoid using electrical tools in wet areas or when you are standing in water.
  • Use Ground Fault Circuit Interrupters (GFCI). These devices help shut off electricity and interrupt the current flow.
  • Never unplug an extension cord by pulling on the cord.

Are You and Your Employees Properly Trained?

Give Lancaster Safety a call today at 888-403-6026 for a free, no-obligation consultation to see if your employees are being compliant and working safely!