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Workplace injury: Cell tower worker escapes electrocution

Overhead power lines carry electricity of extremely high voltage, and accidental exposure typically causes severe injuries -- or worse. Employers must ensure that workers are aware of the dangers and know the regulations related to working nearby electric power lines. A Fresno man miraculously survived -- and escaped a serious workplace injury -- when the elevated bucket in which he was working touched the power lines.

California workers must ensure their supervisors or employers arranged with the appropriate power supply company to disconnect electrical supply to the cables for the duration of a job. Workers have the right to report unsafe circumstances -- especially those involving known hazards. This cell tower worker was in the elevated bucket of a lift truck. Fortunately, the cell tower was located adjacent to a substation of Pacific Gas and Electric, whose workers responded immediately after the bucket touched the power lines.

A PG&E spokesperson says the 115,000 volts of electricity that went through the lift truck likely caused the failure of truck's hydraulic system. The power of the bolt apparently caused the truck's tires to leave marks on the road. He also said the tires might have prevented the worker from electrocution. PG&E workers grounded the live wires and rescued the man after he was stranded in the cold for approximately three hours.

While this man was fortunate to get down to ground level unscathed, many California workers suffer electric shocks when they are unwittingly exposed to live electricity. Such a workplace injury can cause severe burns that can lead to substantial medical expenses and, in many cases, hospitalization and time away from work. The workers' compensation insurance system provides benefits to help injured workers cope with these financial losses.

Source: fresnobee.com, "When his elevated bucket hit power lines, this worker needed rescuing", Troy Pope, Dec. 1, 2016

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