Recent electrocutions prompt ESA to issue warning
In just 24 hours, three confirmed electrical-related incidents involving four individuals were reported on worksites across Ontario.
By Kavita Sabharwal-Chomiuk
In just 24 hours, three confirmed electrical-related incidents involving four individuals were reported on worksites across Ontario, resulting in two reported fatalities and two critical injuries. All three incidents involved contact with overhead electrical wires.
According to a release from the Electrical Safety Authority (ESA), the organization is working with the Ministry of Labour during the investigation of each of these incidents.
“In the last 24 hours, four families have been tragically impacted by the dangers of electricity and we are incredibly saddened by this news,” said Dr. Joel Moody, chief public safety officer with the ESA. “Unfortunately, these incidents were preventable and it’s clear that more needs to be done to help Ontarians stay safe when working around electricity.”
Over the last decade, a total of 19 Ontarians suffered fatal injuries after making physical contact with energized powerlines. These four incidents further reinforce how vigilant people must be when working close to or around energized wires.
Supporting this vigilance, the ESA has released a list of safety tips to follow when working around electricity, whether at home or on the job:
- Look up, look out and identify all powerlines around you and make sure people and equipment stay at least three metres away to prevent an incident. Electricity can jump to you or your equipment if you’re too close to a powerline.
- Stay alert! Many incidents happen at the end of the day when people are tired or rushing to finish a job.
- Be Aware. Drivers of dump trucks and other high reach vehicles must get a signaller to ensure that equipment doesn’t come within three metres of overhead powerlines.
- Hidden Dangers. Overhead powerlines can be hidden by foliage. Tree trimming tools that contact a powerline can result in electrocution. Look closely to identify overhead powerlines running through trees and ensure that you and your tools are at least three metres away from powerlines at all times.
- Keep Equipment Away. Aluminum ladders, or ladders with aluminum parts, will act as conductors of electricity if they contact overhead powerlines. Even wooden ladders can contain metal and lead to a shock if contact occurs with a powerline.
- Don’t touch. If wires fall down on the truck or the ground, always assume they are still energized. Stay in the vehicle, call 911 and keep everyone back. Only the local utility worker on-site can confirm when the power is off and tell you when it’s safe to exit the vehicle.