Last Friday morning, Elkhart Police were called to investigate the death of a 21 year old employee who was working on power lines when he made contact with an active power line. The victim was found dead at the scene. The worker, a contractor working on a line owned and operated by Indiana Michigan Power, was transferred to the Medical Examiner Department for autopsy as police are continuing their investigation.
This is the worst outcome imaginable for any workplace electrical incident. According to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics (BLS), about 76,000 office workers nationwide have disabling injuries every year. Although the most frequent type of incidents are falls, (either from heights, tripping or slippery surfaces), many injuries also occur as the result of contact with electrical equipment or appliances. To protect our workforce, we should properly educate them and ensure that the workplace is safe and free from electrical hazards. Some methods or precautions to aid in preventing workplace electrical accidents, include but are not limited to:
Use only equipment that is properly grounded or double-insulated.
• Only use equipment that has been approved by a national testing laboratory or regulatory authority.
• Unplug or disconnect machinery or equipment before servicing or repairing and check to make sure the machinery or equipment is actually disconnected, powered down and turned off prior to service.
• Do not ignore warning signs. It an item makes an unusual noise, smokes or sparks, take it out of service immediately and tag it “DO NOT USE”.
• Do not use electrical machinery or equipment near water or wet surfaces.