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News Release
Power Line Accidents Decline in 2008
April 24, 2009 (2009-003)
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 after coming into contact with high-voltage power lines dropped slightly in Oregon in 2008 compared with 2007 according to an annual report released today by the Oregon Public Utility Commission.
“We are very concerned that most of the accidents continue to involve individuals who are working near overhead and underground power lines,” Commission Senior Electrical Engineer Jerry Murray said.  “Fortunately, there were no fatalities last year, though nine people were hospitalized because of serious electrical injuries.” 
  • 2008 15 injuries
  • 2007 17 injuries
  • 2006 13 injuries
  • 2005 14 injuries
The following are examples of accidents in 2008:
  • A carpenter raising himself in a motorized aerial lift platform contacted an overhead high voltage line.
  • A truck operator swung a boom into an overhead power line.
  • A volunteer painter working on a scaffold came into contact with an overhead power line.
  • A water utility worker sawed into a buried high voltage cable.
“These workers likely could have avoided being injured if they would have paid closer attention to overhead and underground power lines in the construction area before starting work,” according to Murray.
The Commission advises if you or your contractor is 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.
Before doing any excavation work, you should call the Oregon Utility Notification Center at 811 at least two business days before the scheduled work, and wait for the site to be marked by utilities.
“Homeowners need to be careful as well. I can’t stress this enough to make sure that you are aware of the overhead and underground power lines around you before working in your yard or trimming your trees,” said Murray.
The Commission’s safety staff notes the value of general safety education programs and says all students in Oregon should receive power line safety education at least twice during their grade school years.
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, for all of Oregon’s 39 electrical utilities.  The OPUC performs routine inspections and audits of electric utility programs to ensure that electric utilities are following the safety code and keeping workers and the public safe.