Blog Post #1091 – Two Companies Fined a Total of $285,000 After Worker Fatally Electrocuted by Overhead Lines

Blog Post #1091 – Two Companies Fined a Total of $285,000 After Worker Fatally Electrocuted by Overhead Lines

Excerpt from the government of Ontario’s ‘Newsroom’

A worker was killed when a boom became activated and came into contact with live overhead electrical lines.

The two companies involved were:

  1. PGC Services Inc., 180 Ram Forest Road, Gormley, Ontario, a company that provides hydro vacuum excavation to the construction and utilities industries; and
  2. K-Line Maintenance & Construction Limited, 12731 Highway 48, Stouffville, Ontario, a company that provides design, procurement, construction and maintenance services for overhead distribution lines.

The accident occurred at a K-Line construction project located along the north side of Highway 7 east of Dufferin Street in Thornhill.

K-Line was retained by the utility owner to replace the existing overhead lines. PGC was sub-contracted to excavate holes for the installation of new electrical utility poles.

Hydrovac excavation was being used on the site. Crews use specialized hydrovac trucks equipped with long articulating booms along with a high-pressure water hose and a water tank. On November 24, 2015, PGC sent two of its hydrovac crews to the site.

The two crews then began setting up their equipment by extending the boom arms of the hydrovac trucks and by installing dig tube extensions to allow the vacuum to reach the excavation areas.

The excavation area along the road was serviced by existing overhead power lines with a phase-to-phase voltage of 27,600 volts and the work was taking place in proximity to the lines.

All members of both crews were busy performing work tasks preparing the equipment for excavation. There was no one present monitoring the movement of the hydrovac boom arms in order to warn the operator to ensure the equipment did not encroach upon the legal safety standard, which states: “No object shall be brought closer than three meters from an energized overhead electrical conductor with a nominal phase-to-phase voltage of between 750 and 150,000 volts.”

The boom arms of the hydrovac trucks are operated by a remote control. For the truck operated by the first crew, movements were controlled by a series of elevated toggles on the unit. One of the workers was removing the final dig tube from its storage rack on the driver’s side undercarriage of the first truck. This worker, while attempting to pull the dig tube out of the rack, had the boom’s remote-control unit hanging underneath one arm.

The other worker, on the passenger side of that truck, had pulled a length of the high-pressure water hose from its spool in the equipment cabinet on the undercarriage of the truck, and was in the process of attaching it to the digging gun/water wand used for the excavation. The water hose was connected to the truck, and has a metal-mesh lining that is a conductor of electricity.

As the driver’s-side worker was pulling the final dig tube out of the storage rack, one or more of the toggles on the remote control was triggered by coming into contact with or being caught on a body part or a piece of clothing. The movement of the toggle(s) caused the boom arm to move and to come into contact with the overhead electrical lines parallel to the road.

The boom arm’s contact with the 27,600-volt energized overhead electrical conductor caused the electrical current to pass through the first truck. The worker on the passenger side of the truck was fatally electrocuted.

The boom arm was on fire in the overhead electrical lines. The remote control was used to separate the boom arm from the lines. Emergency services were called. The worker was pronounced deceased at hospital.

Following guilty pleas, K-Line was fined $160,000 and PGC was fined $125,000 by Judge Howard I. Chisvin in Newmarket court, 50 Eagle Street; Crown Counsel Daniel Kleiman.

The court also imposed a 25-per-cent victim fine surcharge as required by the Provincial Offences Act. The surcharge is credited to a special provincial government fund to assist victims of crime.

My opinion

The law(s) in contravention,

PGC Services was found guilty of a contravention of the Ontario ‘Construction’ sector regulation 213/91 188(2) of the Construction Regulation, which states,

 

1. 750 or more volts, but no more than 150,000 volts 3 m
2. more than 150,000 volts, but no more than 250,000 volts 4.5 m
3. more than 250,000 volts 6 m

 

This was a direct violation of the Ontario Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA), section 25, subsection 1(c) which states,

“An employer shall ensure that,

(c) the measures and procedures prescribed are carried out in the workplace.”

K-Line Maintenance and Construction was found guilty of a contravention of ‘Construction’ regulation 213/91, section 188, subsection (8) which states,

A competent worker, designated as a signaller, shall be stationed so that he or she is in full view of the operator and has a clear view of the electrical conductor and of the vehicle or equipment, and shall warn the operator each time any part of the vehicle or equipment or its load may approach the minimum distance.

Again, this was a direct contravention of the OHSA, section 25, subsection 1(c).

This chart is better known as MSAD, Minimum Safe Approach Distance. All sector regulations include a similar chart to protect workers in case of coming into contact or dangerous proximity to energized powerlines.

HRS Group Inc. has a great team that can help you with all your health and safety needs including electrical safety. Contact Deborah toll free at 1-877-907-7744 or locally at 705-749-1259.

We can also be reached at info@hrsgroup.com

Ensure your workplace is a safe place.

Remember – In Ontario, “ALL Accidents are Preventable”

‘Work’ and ‘Play’ safe.

Daniel L. Beal

CHSEP – Advanced Level
VP & Senior Trainer
HRS Group Inc.

 

Dan
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