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News Release
Power Line Accidents Increase in 2002
March 26, 2003 (2003 - 006) 
Contacts: Roy Hemmingway, Chairman, 503 378-6611; Joan H. Smith, Commissioner, 503 378-6611; Lee Beyer, Commissioner, 503 378-6611; Bob Sipler, PUC Safety Analyst 503-373-7451; Bob Valdez, Public Information Officer, 503 378-8962
Salem, OR - Twenty people were injured in high voltage power line accidents last year, three of them fatally. That’s an increase over the 13 accidents and one fatality reported in 2001, according to the annual Utility Electric Contact Incident Report issued by the Oregon Public Utility Commission.
Incidents usually occur because of an unsafe act, not an unsafe condition. "There is often a lack of awareness of the degree of danger," said OPUC Senior Utility Analyst Bob Sipler. "The innocent looking wire that a bird can safely land on has the potential to change or end someone’s life forever."
Most electric utility incidents result from contacts with the high voltage distribution wires found in most neighborhoods and along roads. There were no contacts in 2002 that involved very high voltage transmission lines or facilities inside substations.
Four people were injured in tree-related incidents. One person was trimming a branch in his yard. One was a logger felling a tree. The other two were cable television workers who pushed branches into overhead lines.
Trimming branches near power lines is the responsibility of the utility companies, and they do the job for free.
2002 was marked by an unusually high number of collision type accidents. Three people were injured in a sailboat mishap, two when an airplane struck a power line, and there were two cars that struck power poles.
Commission safety staff says general safety education programs now in place are preventing accidents and suggest that all students in Oregon should receive power line safety education provided by utilities at least twice while in grade school.
The Commission also encourages utilities to focus their educational programs toward construction workers, homeowners, and agricultural workers.
The 2002 Utility Electric Contact Incident report is available electronically via the Oregon PUC Web site at www. puc@state.or.us (click on "safety")