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Occupational Safety and Health Administration OSHA

Accident Report Detail

Accident: 201580057 - Electric Shock - Earth Potential From Downed Power Line

Accident: 201580057 -- Report ID: 1032300 -- Event Date: 02/11/1998
InspectionOpen DateSICEstablishment Name
30118389302/12/19980783Red Hawk Tree Service Inc.
Three employees of a tree service firm were performing a line-clearance operation for a hospital. One employee was using an ax and wedges to fell the trees; another was cutting the felled trees; and the third was stacking the cut trees and branches. The crew was felling a fir tree that they planned to have fall parallel to the 13.8-kilovolt (phase-to-phase) overhead power line. The tree was about 19.8 meters tall and had more branches on the side facing the power line than on the other side. The crew had wedged the tree to fall away from the power line. However, when the employee with the ax made the back cut, he cut through the holding wood; and the tree fell into the power line, knocking all three phase conductors from a utility pole and snapping one. Initially, no one was injured. As the broken conductor arced and bounced around, it struck the chipper and started a fire. The employee who had been cutting the trees ran in front of the truck and received an electric shock from the potential gradient in the earth across his feet. (According to the coroner's report, entry and exit wounds were found on the soles of the employee's feet.) The tree feller made three attempts to pull the injured employee away from the truck where he had fallen, and the feller received electric shocks until he was able to drag the victim clear of the place where the potential gradient was too high. His coworkers administered cardio-pulmonary resuscitation and summoned emergency medical services. Their rescue attempts were to no avail. The injured employee was pronounced dead at the hospital 45 minutes after the accident.
Keywords: overhead power line, electrical, cpr, potential gradient, electrocuted, e ptd, tree, elec utility work, tree trimming
Employee # Inspection Age Sex Degree Nature Occupation
1 301183893 Fatality Electric Shock Groundskeepers and gardeners, except farm

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