Ontario Construction News staff writer
Within one day last week, three confirmed electrical-related incidents involving four individuals were reported at worksites across Ontario: they resulted in two reported fatalities and two critical injuries. All of these incidents involved contact with overhead electrical wires, the Electrical Safety Authority (ESA) said in a news release.
The ESA says in its statement that it is supporting the Ministry of Labour while each of these incidents are investigated.
The provincial Ministry of Labour has confirmed that one of the deaths happened just before 9 p.m. Thursday, when a worker died in Vaughan. “A worker sustained fatal injuries due to an electrical contact when (a) drill boom made contact with overhead power lines,” spokesperson Charlene Millett said in a statement.
CBC reported she said the worker was employed by Pontil Drilling Services, which, according to the business’s website, does work ranging from geotechnical and environmental drilling to utility locating. The ministry says it has issued six requirements to the drilling company and its investigation is still ongoing.
Meanwhile, a second person died on Sept. 19 at a private residence in Kawartha Lakes, near Peterborough. The ministry says two self-employed workers were trimming a hedge in an elevated work platform when it made contact with a power line.
“In the last 24 hours, four families have been tragically impacted by the dangers of electricity and we are incredibly saddened by this news,” Dr. Joel Moody, the ESA’s Chief Public Safety Officer, said in a statement issued on Friday. “Unfortunately, these incidents were preventable and it’s clear that more needs to be done to help Ontarians stay safe when working around electricity.”
In the last 10 years, 19 Ontarians have died after making contact with energized powerlines. The events of the past week further reinforce the serious nature of electricity and need to always be vigilant when working close to or around energized wires.
To keep safe, ESA urges everyone to remember these safety tips when working around electricity – 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.