Fatality Alert: Electrocutions Can Be Prevented
MIOSHA Urges Employers To Proactively Protect Their Workers
August 30, 2010
- One of the most tragic events in the workplace occurs when an employee is killed or seriously injured on the job. This year in Michigan, we have already had six fatal accidents caused by electrocutions. This is a significant increase over the last several years.
The Michigan Occupational Safety and Health Administration (MIOSHA) is reminding all employers that they are obligated, by law, to protect and train their workers. The MIOSHA program is part of the Michigan Department of Energy, Labor & Economic Growth (DELEG).
"One worker death is too many. One day each of the six workers below went to work and each one never came home," said DELEG Acting Director Andrew S. Levin. "We mourn with their families - and we urge employers to follow MIOSHA rules and apply effective worker safeguards in every worksite where hazards are present."
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the number of electrocutions nationally during 2008-2009 was 360. The leading occupations experiencing electrocutions were: Construction and Extraction Occupations (170); Installation, Maintenance and Repair Occupations (74); Building and Grounds Cleaning and Maintenance Occupations (32); and Production Occupations (27).
Electrocutions in Michigan in 2010
Below are the details of the electrocutions in Michigan in 2010 (all are currently under investigation):
- 04/15/10 - Kevin James - Age 41 - AT&T - Detroit. James was conducting maintenance on a telephone line. A primary electric line was over his head. The line came loose, landed on James, and electrocuted him.
- 06/30/10 - Isidro Perez-Ramirez - Age 28 - Lennard Ag Company - Samaria. Perez-Ramirez was picking weeds in a potato field by hand and collapsed. An autopsy indicated he was electrocuted.
- 07/29/10 - William Ryan - Age 49 - Flotation Docking Systems Inc. - East Grand Rapids. Ryan was electrocuted while welding on a metal floating dock.
- 08/18/10 - Earl Walter Howell Jr. - Age 33 - Autumn Woods - Warren. Howell was discovered on the roof near an air conditioning unit by another employee, and appears to have been electrocuted.
- 08/21/10 - Pat Underhill - Age 46 - High Grade Materials Company - Sand Lake. Underhill was doing maintenance on equipment with a conveyor system. The conveyor had been raised to allow him access and came in contact with high voltage power lines.
- 08/24/10 - Michael Parks - Age 54 - Energy Group Inc. - Detroit. Parks climbed up a utility pole to replace a cross-arm and made contact with an electrical line.
The MIOSH Act requires employers to provide "a workplace free of recognized hazards that are likely to cause death or serious physical harm to the employees." The purpose of MIOSHA safety and health rules is to set minimum requirements and provide guidelines for identifying and correcting the hazards contributing to injuries, illnesses and fatalities.
MIOSHA investigated nine electrocutions during 2008 and 2009. While nothing can ever replace a life lost - one way to honor these workers is to thoroughly investigate the circumstances surrounding the accident and to use the findings to make sure a similar tragedy is prevented.
Below are rule violations cited by the Construction Safety and Health Division and the General Industry Safety and Health Division as a result of their investigations of the nine electrocutions.
General Industry Violations 2008 - 2009
Part 39, Design Safety Standards for Electrical Systems:
Part 86, Electric Power Generation, Transmission, and Distribution:
Part 40, Electrical Safety-Related Work Practices:
Construction Violations 2008 - 2009
Part 10, Lifting and Digging Equipment:
Part 17, Electrical Installations:
Part 32, Aerial Work Platforms:
MIOSHA urges proactive attention to safety and health diligence in all workplaces to eliminate these needless deaths. Effective worker safeguards must be applied at every jobsite.
Fatal accidents can be prevented when employers develop and implement safety and health management systems. These systems include not only following MIOSHA rules, but emphasize the need for:
Management commitment and planning,
Hazard prevention and control, and
Safety and health training.
The MIOSHA Consultation Education and Training (CET) Division has consultants available to provide employers with assistance in creating safety and health systems, developing accident prevention programs, and implementing long-term safety and health solutions. Companies can call the CET Division at 517.322.1809 for consultation services, training opportunities, and other safety and health needs, or visit us online at www.michigan.gov/cet.
The MIOSHA Training Institute (MTI) has several courses scheduled next fiscal year on General Industry Safety Standards Part 39 and Part 40, and the construction electrical safety course, "Electricity, The Invisible Killer." All MTI course information is online at www.michigan.gov/mti.
Other resources on electrical hazards are also available. The MIOSHA Construction Safety and Health Division has a fact sheet on contact with power lines: MIOSHA Construction Fact Sheets Electrical Incidents - Contact with Power Lines. Federal OSHA has a general fact sheet on working safely with electricity: Electrical Safety Fact Sheet.
Employees exposed to electrical hazards that aren't being addressed by their employers have the right to file a complaint with MIOSHA. Complaints from employees and their representatives are confidential and are taken seriously by MIOSHA. Information on how to file a complaint is on our website at www.michigan.gov/mioshacomplaint. Employees can also call MIOSHA at 800.866.4674. MIOSHA staff can discuss the complaint and respond to any questions.
For information on MIOSHA standards, companies and employees can contact the Construction Safety and Health Division at 517.322.1856, the General Industry Safety and Health Division at 517.322.1831, or visit our website at www.michigan.gov/mioshastandards.
MIOSHA's goal is to help prevent workplace injuries, illnesses and fatalities and to ensure that effective tools and training are available to employers.