Worker Killed When Ladder Touches Power Line

A 22-year-old roofer was electrocuted when the ladder he was helping to dismantle came in contact with a 7,200-volt overhead electrical line.

The young man and a co-worker had just finished installing shingles on the roof of a building and were taking down an aluminum ladder when the tragedy occurred. While his co-worker was holding the base down with his feet, the victim stood under the ladder and pushed the top out so it was standing in a vertical position. The ladder was then turned 90 degrees and he began walking backwards to lower it to the ground. That’s when contact with the energized line happened. The young man was electrocuted and died immediately.

The WorkSafeNB investigating officer determined that, while placed vertically, the ladder was within 30 to 40 cm of the electrical line; turning it 90 degrees brought it within 10 to 15 cm, and the sideways movement of walking it down to the ground caused the fatal contact.

Recommended Preventive Action

With appropriate precautions and procedures, work carried out near electrical transmission or distribution lines need not become a threat to worker’s safety. Contact NB Power at 1 800 663-6272 for information specific to your site.

  1. Contact the authority owning or operating the electrical utility line or utility line equipment to ensure that the line or equipment is (a) de-energized or (b) adequately insulated or guarded before permitting any employees to start work. [Subsection 289(2) Regulation 91-191]
  2. When an employee who is not a qualified person [section 286 Regulation 91-191] is about to start work that is liable to bring any person or object closer to an energized electrical line or utility line equipment, the employee must maintain the minimum distances specified in the table. [Subsection 289(1) Regulation 91-191]

The accident that claimed the life of this worker is just one in a series of recent accidents involving members of the public and overhead electrical lines. The safety reminder is particularly appropriate for construction sites during the installation, moving and dismantling of ladders, scaffolds and work platforms.

1 800 999-9775