Text Size:   A+ A- A   •   Text Only
Site Image

News Release
Fatal Power Line Accidents Double in 2003
May 3, 2004 (2004 - 015)
Contacts: Lee Beyer, Chairman, 503 378-6611; John Savage, Commissioner, 503 378-6611; Ray Baum, Commissioner, 503 378-6611; Bob Valdez, Public Information Officer, 503 378-8962
Salem, OR – In 2003, 14 people were injured and six killed in accidents involving high voltage power lines according to the Oregon Public Utility Commission. The six fatalities doubled the number of deaths reported in 2002.
"Three of the fatalities last year involved airplane collisions and another person was killed when their automobile struck a pole and two others died in roadside construction related mishaps," OPUC Senior Utility Analyst Bob Sipler said.
Historically most contact victims are men. Of the 20 people involved in accidents in 2003, three of the victims were women.
Accidents involved a wide range of activities such as tree trimming, construction-related work involving equipment such as cranes and backhoes, touching storm-downed power lines, general recreation such as walking, flying an ultra-light airplane, and installing a CB antenna.
Most electric utility accidents involve high voltage distribution lines found in most neighborhoods and along roadsides. In the past few years, individuals trimming trees in their yards has been a frequent setting for contact accidents, however, in 2003 this category was quite low with just two injuries.
One involved a landscape trimmer who dropped a branch onto a power line. The other accident occurred when a person was trimming a branch in a friend’s yard near a transmission line. "This tells me safety education programs aimed at homeowners are making people more aware of the potentially lethal nature of power lines," Sipler added.
The Commission safety staff notes that general safety education programs are preventing accidents and suggests all students in Oregon should receive power line safety education overviews provided by utilities at least twice while in grade school.
The Commission is also encouraging utilities to focus safety programs toward homeowners, construction workers and agricultural workers.
The 2004 Utility Electric Contact Incident report is available electronically on the Oregon PUC Web site at http://www.oregon.gov/PUC/safety/electric/04contac.pdf.