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Logging equipment contacted power line, electrocuting worker

Date of incident: February 2016
Notice of incident number: 2016155980004
Employer: Forest management company

Incident summary
A worker was monitoring the move of a supersnorkel (a specialized piece of logging equipment) that was loaded on a low bed trailer being towed by an off-highway tractor. Unnoticed by the worker, the tip of the supersnorkel made contact with a high-voltage power line. The worker went to board the tractor. When he placed his hands on the tractor, he grounded the contact between the power line and the tractor and was fatally electrocuted.

Investigation conclusions

Cause

  • Equipment energized from power line contact: Contact between a high-voltage power line and the tip of the supersnorkel energized the equipment that the worker was monitoring. The worker probably did not recognize that the limits of approach were violated and that the supersnorkel made direct contact with the power line. Believing it was safe, the worker gave the truck driver a two-thumbs-up signal. Had he seen that contact was made, it is unlikely that he would have given the two-thumbs-up signal.

    The supervisor and the truck driver believed that the electrical contact occurred due to arcing. Neither of them saw that the supersnorkel made contact with the power line.

Underlying factor

  • Reliance on worker’s experience led to inadequate hazard assessment: On several occasions before this incident, the worker had loaded the supersnorkel on the low bed trailer and made the same move out of the yard. In this incident, he loaded the supersnorkel and set the angle. The supervisor and the truck driver relied on the worker’s prior experience and judgment to complete the same move safely. While the supervisor, the worker, and the truck driver were aware of the hazards associated with power lines, they did not accurately determine the height of the power line or the height of the loaded supersnorkel before the move began.

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Additional resource:
BC Forest Safety Council alert

Publication Date: Apr 2018 Asset type: Incident Investigation Report Summary NI number: 2016155980004