Energized Guy Wire Causes Electrocution Incident

Two utility workers have died of electrocution because of an energized guy wire.

In Orange County, New York, two workers were given the routine job of inspecting guy wires, the support lines that help support power poles. They had been contracted by Orange and Rockland Utilities. A news report described the work as “non-electrical maintenance” on the poles.

One of the guy wires was energized. When the workers contacted it, the incident occurred.

According to one news report, a nearby resident knew something had gone wrong when lights in his house flickered and he heard an explosion.

The workers were working in a remote area. The incident sparked a brush fire that destroyed the ATVs the workers had used to get to the area.

The investigation is ongoing.

 

 

Ken Sellars

Ken Sellars

Ken Sellars is an instructor of electrical safety, NEC, Grounding/Bonding and Arc Flash Safety courses nationwide. Read more about Ken.

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2 Responses

    1. Mark,
      Often in these investigations, specific information is sketchy or never released to the public for a variety of reasons. I have, however, seen two main causes: (1) Initial improper installations by utility contractors in placing the guy wire insulators, and (2) poor job planning and job decisions to temporarily remove guy wires for equipment access without proper electrical safety precautions. These insulators are supposed to be installed in an area below the energized conductors so that guy wire energization is not possible. The NESC rule for guy wires is 215C2(a) and (b). These rules specify that guy wires should be effectively grounded or insulated. If insulated, “Guy insulators shall be positioned so as to limit the likelihood of any portion of an anchor guy becoming energized withing 2.45 M (8 feet) of the ground level in the event that the anchor guy becomes slack or breaks.” When these lines are not installed in accordance with the NESC, or when personnel working near guy wires temporarily altar them, these factors can and often do lead to serious injury or fatal shocks. As soon as more information is released on this event, we will gladly update our article.

      In the meantime, if you have personnel working near guy wires for any reason, it is imperative that a proper job plan is developed and reviewed with all site personnel regarding safe work around guy wires and overhead electrical conductors. One can never assume that these support structures are at a zero-energy state, and therefore could easily present an electrical shock or electrocution hazard. As with anything electrical, we cannot afford assumptions. The only sure way to verify the area is safe is with properly trained and qualified electrical personnel performing live-dead-live electrical verification with the correct meter or test equipment rated for the voltage of the system that COULD represent the electrical hazard.

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