Two electrocutions in two weeks: a reminder of hazards posed by power lines

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TUMWATER – The Department of Labor & Industries (L&I) is investigating two separate deaths within two weeks involving workers electrocuted by high voltage power lines. While the incidents remain under investigation, they serve as an important reminder of the hazards associated with working around power lines.

  • On Sept. 6, Terry Milbrad, an employee of American Landscape, was working on a private Mercer Island residence cutting branches on a tree when he came into contact with a power line carrying 7,200 volts and was electrocuted.
  • On Sept. 19, Curtis Roderick, an employee with Furrer Construction, was on an aerial lift power washing a silo in Woodland when he contacted a 7,200-volt power line and was electrocuted.

Most high-voltage deaths in Washington state do not involve power line workers, but rather people whose jobs place them near power lines, such as construction workers, roofers, tree trimmers, agriculture workers, truck drivers or mobile equipment operators.

While line workers undergo extensive training to work near power lines, most other workers who find themselves near these hazards do not have that level of training or experience, and may not recognize the dangers of electrocution if they or their equipment comes into contact with an overhead line.

To prevent electrocutions:

  • Make sure workers are trained to recognize and prevent hazards.
  • Maintain a safe distance from all power lines, at least 10 feet and sometimes more for voltage levels exceeding 50,000 volts.
  • Keep equipment at least 10 feet from power lines and use a trained person as a spotter.
  • If the work is within 10 feet, contact the utility company and see if they will de-energize and ground the power lines.
  • Install electronic warning devices on cranes and other equipment that can warn you when you come too close to an energized line.

More information can be found at www.Lni.wa.gov/safety under 'e' for electrical rules.

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For media information:Hector Castro, Hector.Castro@Lni.wa.gov, 360-902-6043.

Broadcast version:
The Department of Labor & Industries is investigating two deaths in two weeks involving workers electrocuted by high voltage power lines. On Sept. 6, a landscaper was killed while cutting branches at a Mercer Island home, and on Sept. 19, a construction worker power washing a silo in Woodland died. Both men came into contact with nearby power lines. L&I urges employers to ensure workers recognize the hazards posed by power lines and stay at least 10 feet away. More information can be found at www dot Lni dot wa dot gov under the Safety page.

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