One of the manufacturers of aerial lift devices conducted a 15-year study of National Safety Council public records related to electrocution accidents in the electric industry. The study revealed that nearly all line to grounded wire or grounded structure accidents involving aerial bucket trucks have occurred on systems of 15.000 volts (15 kV) and under.
This is understandable because of the relatively close spacing of conductors at these voltages. These voltages of 15kv and under are generally referred to as distribution line voltages. The spacing of distribution lines is proper for the system itself but does present an imminent and dangerous hazard to the lineman who may make accidental or inadvertent contact between energized or grounded conductors and his aerial lift device. The report concluded that for almost every electrical accident there is an explanation as to the cause. The worker "forgot" his safe work rules and failed to use his rubber gloves or other rubber cover-ups. The report went on to state "unfortunately, even the best training can be forgotten in a moment of stress."
According to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), of the 147 deaths reported from 1982-1994 resulting from electrocution at voltages above 600 volts, 76% or 111 of those deaths involved distribution voltages in the rage of 7,200-13,800 volts AC. Of a total of 244 death victims during this same period, 80% had some type of electrical training, and a large percentage of the victims were themselves, supervisors. Again, this government study is consistent with the industry study that concluded that training and warnings are not adequate means to protect workers under many circumstances. Product manufacturers must anticipate worker mistakes that could result in serious injury and death and address those hazards that can be eliminated through technically and economically feasible design changes.
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