Worker electrocuted by hydro wires outside Ontario home 10/19/2004 Source: Canadian Occupational Health and Safety News
October 18, 2004 -- Brantford, Ont (Canadian OH&S News)--Ontario's labour ministry is investigating an accident that claimed the life of a 32-year-old worker who was electrocuted while trimming a tree south of St. George, Ont.
Tyler Sibbick, an employee of Timburrr Tree Services, was killed September 21 at a private residence in St. George after he came in contact with a 4.8-kilovolt power line, says Ministry of Labour (MoL) spokeswoman Belinda Sutton.
Information from the Brant County OPP detachment in Paris, Ont says Sibbick was trimming a tree just outside a home when he was hit by the hydro wires. It would appear the power had not been shut off.
No orders had been issued to Timburrr Tree Services at press time.
COHSN contacted the company to find out whether or not the worker was a qualified individual, and what safety procedures were in place at the time of the accident, but did not receive a response by press time.
Preventing electrocutions during tree trimming
Information from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) notes the two leading causes of death in tree-trimming operations in North America in the last 10 years have been electrocutions and falls. There were 68 electrocutions and 52 falls relating to tree trimming.
Dr Thomas Bender, director of the NIOSH division of safety research, says these fatalities and injuries are preventable. "We must act now to inform workers of the crucial prevention steps that can save their lives," he says, adding workers must be told of hazards and means of prevention.
Dr Bender explains investigations suggest that many tree trimmers and their employers may not be complying with oh&s standards according to their jurisdiction and are, therefore, unaware of the risks posed by inadequate or improper safety procedures and equipment.
He suggests the following:
> Conduct an initial and daily jobsite survey before beginning work to identify hazards and implement appropriate controls.
> Assume that all power lines are energized and avoid all contact (direct or indirect) until it is verified that the lines are de-energized.
> Maintain minimum working distances from energized conductors.
> Use only non-conductive tools, materials and personal protective equipment.
> If work must be performed near a power line or within minimum working distances, make sure the employer has contacted the utility company to discuss de-energizing, grounding, or shielding the power lines.
> Inspect trees and limbs for structural weakness before climbing or cutting.
> Use appropriate fall protection equipment.
> Inspect all equipment before each use to ensure that it is not damaged or defective.
> Use safe work procedures to prevent inadvertent cutting of climbing ropes, lanyards, and safety belts or straps.
> Use safe work procedures for climbing, felling, topping, and pruning trees.
> Ensure that employees required to operate mobile equipment (for example, aerial buckets) have been properly trained.
> Participate in any training programs offered by the employer.
(supplied by Tony Moscioni)
[This message has been edited by Webmaster (edited 10-19-2004).]
As simple as trimming a tree near live wires sounds, it is something that does require some thought before approaching the task. Where HV wires are concerned, we would usually sleeve all of the wires with Neoprene sleeves along the length of the wires that may be contacted by a branch or other part of the tree. Secondly, we'd use Hotsticks with a clamp on the end to pull the branch back so that it is nowhere near any lines, before it is cut. All of the people involved in the trimming wear Insulated Gloves and Outers and also PPE related to the use of Chainsaws.