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Electrical Accidents Increase in 2005
Contacts:     Lee Beyer, Chairman, 503 378-6611; Ray Baum, Commissioner, 503 378-6611;
John Savage, Commissioner, 503 378-6611; Bob Valdez, Public Affairs Specialist, 503 378-8962
Salem, Ore. – The number of people injured in electric contact accidents rose slightly in 2005 compared with the year before but none were fatal according to an annual report released today by the Oregon Public Utility Commission.
Of the 14 people who were injured most were hurt on the job. That is in keeping with historical trends since 1997.  Eight required hospitalization, six were considered minor injuries.  
“The 14 people injured after coming into contact with high-voltage electric lines in 2005 is about ten fewer than the 20 year average,” PUC Senior Utility Analyst Bob Sipler said.  “I think most of these accidents could have been easily prevented. People often know there could be danger, but for some reason just take a chance.”
A crane, a cement pumper, and a lift truck were each involved in high voltage line contacts, resulting in personal injuries.
The purpose of the report is to prevent accidents by providing basic information about how people have been injured so utility companies, construction and safety organizations can target their safety education efforts.
Sipler added “We have years of reports telling us how people get injured, and in almost every instance, just keeping a few feet away would have prevented the injury.  Never take a chance and get close to these lines.  The injuries can be really terrible!”
The Oregon PUC watches over electric power line safety throughout the State.  The Commission’s Safety Staff enforces the National Electrical Safety Code, which is required by State law, over all of Oregon’s 40 electrical utilities.  These utilities include investor-owned, municipal, cooperatives and peoples’ utility districts.  The OPUC performs routine inspections and audits of electric utility programs to ensure that electric utilities are following the safety code and keeping the public safe.  The OPUC uses accident statistics in targeting safety trends that need more focus by the utility industry and the public. 
List of 2005 electric contact accidents
  1. A man using a 2 x 4 board to lift a branch off of a utility wire was shocked.
  2. A man cut down a tree and it fell onto utility wires.  He was pulling the tree off with a caterpillar tractor and got shocked.
  3. A man cut down a tree which fell the wrong direction, hitting a utility line.  He was shocked and hit by the falling tree.
  4. A utility worker was pulling an underground cable when he accidentally contacted an energized high voltage fuse.
  5. A lineman working in a bucket truck contacted a wire with the boom causing a flash which injured him.
  6. A plumber working in a ditch cut into a pipe which had a high voltage cable in it.
  7. An operator of a cement pumping truck swung his long boom into a high voltage line.
  8. A painter was carrying his ladder in a vertical position and hit a utility wire.
  9. A man was trimming a tree in his yard and a branch fell into a electric line, shocking him.
  10. A man hit a pole with his car, knocking down wires on to the car.  When he got out, he was shocked.
  11. An electrician was doing repairs in a ditch.  He cut into the wrong cable with his knife and was injured with high voltage.
  12. An underground boring machine hit a high voltage cable, injuring the operator.
  13. A crane contacted a high voltage line, injuring the ground man.
  14. A building maintenance worker on a ladder got a gutter into contact with a utility wire.  He was shocked and also fell from the ladder.
The 2006 Utility Electric Contact Incident report is available electronically on the Oregon PUC Web site http://www.puc.state.or.us/PUC/safety/06contac.pdf (Link is no longer valid)