In the U.S., hundreds of construction workers die every year while on the job, with over 700 fatalities just in the year 2011. The third leading cause of these deaths is electrocution. Electrocutions cause one of every ten construction worker deaths, with nearly 70 deaths in 2011. But these deaths can be prevented. The video you are about to see shows how quickly contact with overhead power lines can result in the electrocution of a worker. The video will also show what employers must do to ensure that the work can be done more safely. Employers have a responsibility to provide a safe workplace and protect workers against possible hazards. You'll see that training workers, pre-job planning and taking the right precautions save lives. Please be advised. The scenes you are about to see deal with deaths at construction sites and may be disturbing to some people. All scenes are based on actual events.
Two construction workers were replacing a section of pipe in a trench next to a road. They were using a crane to unload the pipe from a truck and place it on the ground close to the trench. While one worker operated the crane, another worker was on the ground to help direct the pipe toward the ground near the trench. The worker directing the pipe had one hand on the tagline, which was attached to the rigging used to lift the load. As the crane operator began to move the pipe, the crane's boom contacted an overhead power line. The electrical current traveled through the boom, down the load line, along the tagline, and reached the worker. He died instantly.
Let's look at the events leading up to this tragic incident, and see how it could have been prevented. The worksite did not have many of the required controls in place to protect workers from overhead power line hazards. For instance, before the work started, the employer had not set up the required clearance distance to keep the crane a safe distance from the overhead power line.
Let's take a look at the same work area, this time with proper precautions in place. All workers are trained, this includes the crane operator being certified and the rigger and spotter fully qualified. Because the line is "live" (or energized), the employer has taken steps to keep a safe distance from the power line: The foreman obtained the voltage of the overhead power line from the utility company. Based on the voltage, he determined the minimum required distance of the crane from the power line. A pre-job safety planning meeting was held. Flags are set up to show the boundary that must not be crossed. A non-conductive tag line is used to control the movement of the pipes. The truck is no longer directly below the power line. And a spotter is on site with a two-way radio to communicate with the operator.Higher voltage lines will require greater minimum safe distances and additional precautions than those shown here. Now, as the pipe is moved, the boom remains a safe distance from the power lines and the worker safely guides the pipe towards the ground near the trench.
This video shows one of several options employers can use to keep workers safe when operating cranes near power lines. Not all worksites are the same, and the precautions could be different than those shown here. Construction deaths from electrocutions are preventable. The precautions shown here save workers' lives. Follow safe crane operation requirements on the job: it could be the difference between life and death.
If you would like more information, contact OSHA at www.osha.gov or 1-800-321-OSHA that's 1-800-321-6742.Back to Top
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