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Employee killed after trying to avoid vehicle

Mobile crane
Mobile crane

A machine operator died while attempting to navigate around a car parked at a work site.

Authorities recently examined circumstances surrounding a worker who was fatally electrocuted in September 2022.

The victim tried to use a pick-and-carry mobile crane to move a metal frame. While trying not to strike a nearby vehicle, he forgot to check his overhead powerline clearance, made contact and suffered a lethal shock of up to 400,000 volts.

“A worker was electrocuted when the metal frame he was holding contacted a high-voltage overhead powerline … where a shed was being built,” SafeWork Queensland said in a safety alert.

“Initial enquiries indicate the metal frame was being moved onsite by a pick-and-carry mobile crane, when the worker attempted to prevent the metal frame striking a nearby vehicle. It was not known that the metal frame had made contact with an overhead powerline at the time.”

Investigators made the following preliminary recommendations:

  • use insulated or non-conductive tools and equipment
  • train and inform workers and contractors in electrical safety
  • de-energise or re-route powerlines before commencing work
  • use alternative plant that cannot physically enter the exclusion zone
  • increase powerline and pole visibility through painting power poles and installing markers or flags
  • use ultrasonic measuring devices instead of mechanical alternatives for measuring overhead line height
  • identify overhead powerlines by consulting maps and/or talking to the property owner and electrical entity
  • develop a safe system of work that maintains a safe distance from powerlines at all times (outside the exclusion zone)
  • conduct a site-specific risk assessment that identifies minimum clearance distances, unexpected movements and weather conditions.

Click here to download the full alert.

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