Work on Live Fixture Causes Fatal Accident

An experienced electrician was fatally injured while changing fluorescent light fixtures.

A series of light fixtures were being moved as part of a building renovation. The electrician was alone and standing on a stepladder when the accident occurred. He was working with his upper body above the suspended ceiling and his chest against metal water pipes, making him a good grounding path. The victim was electrocuted when he came into contact and stayed in contact with an energized 347-volt Bx12/2 wire. The wire had been removed from the fixture and left hanging at his side.

WorkSafeNB determined the primary cause of the fatality to be working on a live fixture.

Recommended Preventive Action

  • An employer shall ensure that the power supply to electrical equipment is de-energized, locked out of service and tagged before any work is done on equipment and while the work is done on equipment. [Section 287.3(1), Reg. 91-191]
  • Where it is not practicable to de-energize electrical equipment before working on or near energized exposed parts of the equipment, an employee shall use rubber gloves, mats, shields and other protective equipment to ensure protection from electrical shocks and burns while performing the work. [Section 287.4(1), Reg. 91-191]
  • Don’t take short cuts! Shorting-up the wires or turning the power off at the wall switch are not acceptable methods of de-energizing electrical equipment. The electrical breaker should be switched off and properly locked out and tagged before any work is accomplished.

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