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News Release
 
Electric Contact Incidents Decline For Second Year In A Row
May 3, 2000 (2000-021)
 
Contacts: Ron Eachus, Chairman, 503 378-6611; Roger Hamilton, Commissioner 503 378-6611; Joan H. Smith, Commissioner, 503 378-6611; Bob Sipler, Senior Utility Analyst 503 373-7451; Bob Valdez, Public Information Officer, 503 378-8962
 
Salem, OR - The Oregon Public Utility Commission reported today the total number of electrical contact incidents fell in 1999, continuing a two-year downward trend, but still remains high when evaluated over a 5, 10 or even 20-year average. Significant contributing factors are believed to be continuing high construction activity and high tree growth rates due to climatic changes.
 
Thirty people made injury contacts in 24 separate incidents in 1999. Four were fatally injured. That compares with 34 people who made injury contacts in 30 incidents in 1998 with one fatality and 43 injured people in 32 incidents in 1997 with five fatalities.
 
Most utility electrical accidents result from contacts with overhead distribution conductors. These are the typical high voltage distribution wires found in most neighborhoods.
 
There were nine tree-related incidents in 1999, with most resulting from people trimming or cutting down trees in their yards. Incidents are typically higher during the summer months. "If utility customers are going to get injured with high voltage lines, the chances are very high that it will be connected to a tree in their yard," said OPUC Senior Utility Analyst Bob Sipler.
 
Five crane-related contacts were made in 1999 with one fatality. The PUC report noted this has been a continuing source of concern needing special attention by the electric utilities and Oregon OSHA. Crane contacts have been the most likely incident type to result in multiple victims.
 
There were no irrigation pipe-related incidents in 1997, 1998, or 1999. Note: At the time of the writing of this report (mid April, 2000), there had already been two incidents of this type in 2000.
 
The PUC staff recommends that electric utilities provide powerline safety training to all grade school students in Oregon at least twice during these years, to construction workers where projects are anticipated, to homeowners concerning electrical hazards related to trees, and to agricultural workers that handle irrigation pipes.
 
 
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