Worker on Scissor Lift Electrocuted


Overhead power lines and elevating equipment
can be a dangerous mix. You don’t even have to touch the power lines. Get close enough to one, and like lightning,
the electricity can jump across an air gap. This is known as flashover, and it’s what
happened to one young worker. The young worker had been cleaning
and performing service checks on two scissor lifts at the rear
of a rental yard. The service checks included raising the lift to full height. The worker had finished working on one of the lifts. He moved the other lift from the wash area
to the far back of the yard. Overhead were 138-kilovolt and 25-kilovolt high-voltage power lines. One kilovolt equals 1,000 volts,
so 25 kilovolts equals 25,000 volts. Labels on the lifts warned to keep clear of
power lines. A worker had just arrived at the
business next door. She saw the young worker standing in the middle
of the elevated platform. The worker began to raise his right arm
towards the power lines in what appeared to be a defensive manner. Electricity flashed over from the 25,000-volt
line to the worker, then travelled through the scissor lift to
the ground. The surge was so severe that scorch marks were left where the ground straps of the lift contacted the concrete. The worker, seriously injured, did not survive. We can learn three main lessons from this incident: Keep at least 3 metres or 10 feet away
from power lines. This applies to power lines that are over
750 volts and up to 75 kilovolts. Higher voltages require keeping even farther away. Implement controls such as visual aids or
barriers to protect workers from overhead power lines. Don’t just rely on workers’ ability to
judge the distance to the lines. After this incident, warning flags and signs were installed in the rental yard. Train young and new workers so they can
do their jobs safely. While job-shadowing of more senior workers
is essential, don’t rely on that alone for training. It can lead to inconsistent training and perpetuate
errors. Include structured training, which means developing and having workers follow a safety-focused training program. Document the training. Overhead power lines mean danger. Look up, keep back, and stay safe.

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