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News Release
2001 Electric Accidents Decline to Lowest Level since 1988
April 4, 2002 (2002 - 008)
Contacts:  Roy Hemmingway, Chairman, 503 378-6611; Joan H. Smith, Commissioner, 503 378-6611; Lee Beyer, Commissioner, 503 378-6611; Bob Valdez, Public Information Officer, 503 378-8962
Salem, OR – A report just released by the Oregon Public Utility Commission showed that only 13 accidents as a result of coming into contact with high voltage power lines in 2001.
That’s the fewest number of accidents since 1988, when just 8 were reported. Of the 13 reported accidents in 2001, one involved a fatality. By comparison, in 2000, 24 people were injured in 22 separate accidents.
PUC safety analysts say the decline may be due in part to reduced activity in the construction sector combined with benefits from safety education programs.
Most utility electrical incidents result from contacts with high voltage distribution lines found in neighborhoods and along roads.
Seven of the accidents were non-work related. Five of those involved people working on trees in their yards. "If utility customers are going to get injured from high voltage lines, chances are very high it will be related in some way to trimming a tree in their yard," said OPUC Senior Utility Analyst Bob Sipler.
Homeowners need to check overhead wires before launching into their gardening work. They need to know trimming branches near power lines is the responsibility of utility companies, which have the equipment and trained workers for the job.
OPUC’s Sipler added, "Be aware of the lines above and below you, and keep a safe distance. A wire may look harmless, but get too close and your life may be changed forever."
DO CALL BEFORE YOU DIG--Oregon Utility Notification Center, (800) 332-2344