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News Release
Don't Touch that Wire, Electricity-Related Accidents Jump in 2007
September 26, 2008 (2008 - 025)
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 hurt after coming into contact with power lines grew in 2007 compared with the previous year due in part to an increase in construction-related accidents. One individual was killed according to an annual report prepared by the Oregon Public Utility Commission.
Of the 17 people who were injured, 14 were hurt on the job. Twelve had to go to the hospital, four were considered minor injuries.  By comparison, electrical accidents injured 13 people in 2006 and 14 in 2005.
Of serious concern is the increased number of construction/maintenance workers who were injured.  In addition to the 14 injuries in 2007, there were 12 in 2006 and 10 in 2005.
The following are examples of accidents in 2007:
  • Two workers injured when their roofing material conveyor came into contact with energized overhead lines;
  • A concrete pumper truck came into contact with a high voltage line, resulting in the hose operator receiving a shock;
  • A snorkel lift operator received electrical burns while attempting to install poles under an overhead high voltage line;
  • A boom contacted an overhead high voltage line causing the line to burn open. The energized line fell on the boom operator's arm.
  • A painter, who was on a lift power-washing a government building, contacted an overhead power line.
"These workers could have avoided injury if they would have simply looked up and paid closer attention to overhead power lines before starting work near them."  Commission Senior Electrical Engineer Jerry Murray said.  "I'd recommend before doing any work outside, make sure that you are aware of the overhead and underground facilities around you and always use extreme caution."
If you or your contractor are going to be working near overhead power lines, immediately contact the local utility nearest your job site. Make your activities safe as possible by not working within 10 feet of any overhead high voltage line.
For excavation work, the PUC Safety staff urges Oregonians to call the Oregon Utility Notification Center at 811 at least two business days in advance of work, wait for the site to be marked by utilities, and dig with care around utility facilities.
The Commission's safety staff notes that general safety education programs are valuable and suggests all students in Oregon should receive power line safety education overviews provided by utilities at least twice while in grade school.
The Oregon PUC monitors electric power line safety throughout the State.  The Commission 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 people's  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.  
View the 2008 Utility Electric Contact Incident Report (Link is no longer valid)