During the past week one worker was killed and another was critically injured in electrical accidents. In Florida, a worker was killed in an aerial bucket when he contacted an energized overhead power line while trimming trees at a mobile home park.

OSHA regulations prescribe detailed standards for tree trimming in the vicinity of overhead power lines. Employees who have not received training regarding electrical hazards must maintain a minimum distance of at least 10 feet from overhead power lines. Qualified workers who have received specialized training so they can work within 10 feet of energized power lines and equipment are required to determine the voltages of any lines that may pose a hazard before work begins. Alternatively, all lines must be considered as operating at the voltage of the line with the highest voltage. In addition, qualified workers must ensure their body parts and any ladders, platforms, or aerial devices being used remain outside the minimum approach distance from any energized part. These workers must use only insulated tools and equipment to remove branches and limbs that are in contract with, or are within the minimum approach distance of, energized parts. In addition, while qualified tree trimmers can work alone, a second worker must be within voice range of the first line-clearance tree trimmer if the trimmer will approach within 10 feet of any conductor energized at more than 750 volts, parts are energized at more than 750 volts and branches or limbs are being removed from within the minimum approach distance or roping is necessary to remove branches or limbs from conductors or equipment.

It is not clear whether the worker’s employer complied with these standards.

In a separate electrical accident, a worker in Memphis suffered severe electrical burns when he raised his bucket lift into overhead power lines.

According to one analysis, 69 aerial lift workers were electrocuted in the United States between 1992 and 1999. OSHA guidance provides that workers operating aerial lifts must maintain a minimum clearance of at least 10 feet from the nearest overhead power line. In addition, any conductive object that can be contacted must be maintained at least 10 feet from overhead lines. Conductive objects can include wires, transformers, ducts, pipes or other equipment. Workers are cautioned to always treat overhead lines as energized, even if they are down or appear to be insulated. In addition, under applicable OSHA regulations, employers are required to ensure that the power utility or power line workers de-energize any power lines in the vicinity of the work being performed.

The McGrath Firm represents clients in personal injury and wrongful death actions arising from electrical accidents. If you or a loved one has been injured or killed in an electrical accident, please contact us for a free case evaluation.