Health, Safety, Security and Environment

Safety Flash: Teen Roofer Electrocuted when Ladder Contacts High Voltage Power Line

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On Monday, September 10, 2018, a 16-year-old male roofer (the victim) attempted to maneuver a fully extended 25-foot ladder when he lost control, causing the ladder to fall backwards and contact a 7200-volt electric power line, electrocuting him.

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What Happend?

On the day of the incident, a 16-year-old worker arrived at the jobsite to begin roofing work on a residential home. Around noon, the victim picked up an aluminum extension ladder and moved it to the front of the house, where two large boxwood bushes were planted 3 feet from the home’s exterior wall. No witnesses were present, but it is believed the victim was having trouble accessing the roof because of the bushes. With the ladder fully extended, the victim attempted to move it closer by lifting the ladder and walking between the bushes to find a suitable base. The ladder became unstable, causing the victim to lose his balance and fall backward. As the victim and ladder were falling, the ladder struck a power line carrying 7,200 volts of electricity. Because the victim was in contact with the highly conductive aluminum ladder when it struck the power line, electricity was able to travel through the metal and into his body. He was immediately electrocuted.

Contributing Factors 

Key contributing factors identified in this investigation include:

  • Work performed outside youth employment regulations

  • Lack of hazard recognition and safety training

  • Use of a conductive ladder around high voltage lines

  • Transporting an extension ladder in the vertical position

To prevent future occurrences:

  • Employers should complete a job hazard analysis before performing a new task.
  • Employers should comply with all federal, state and local regulations associated with youth employment, including safety training and hazard recognition.
  • Employers should consider using non-conductive ladders when working near electrical lines.
  • Employees should always lower the extended section and transport ladders horizontally.
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