An electrical lineman died 5 days after attempting to jump from a burning aerial bucket and falling 35 feet to the ground. The lineman was adjusting the slack in the middle phase of a three-phase, 14,200-volt powerline when hydraulic hose attached to the impact wrench he was using burst.
Hydraulic fluid spraying from the hose ignited, covering part of the aerial bucket in flames. As the lineman was rotating the aerial bucket away from the powerlines, he lost power to the controls. He attempted to escape the intensifying fire by jumping laterally from the bucket's edge to an adjacent earthen bank approximately 15 feet away. However, his foot caught on the lip of the bucket, and he fell 35 feet straight down to the ground.
The investigation revealed that the metal-reinforced hydraulic hose used for the impact wrench attachment was simultaneously in contact with two phases of the powerline. The heat generated in the hose caused it to melt and burst at one of the points of contact with the powerlines.
Lack of situational awareness allowed the metal-reinforced hydraulic hose used for the impact wrench attachment to come in contact with two phases of the powerline. The resulting heat caused the hose to melt and burst where it made contact with the power line.
What Can We Learn?
In this case, had the contractor used a Self-Check he would have considered the results of the intended action, verified the conditions and equipment are correct, and ensured he was ready to perform.
The trap of Physical Environment could have been in play here. Our physical environment can provide traps (hot, cold, dark, noisy, messy, etc.). The first thing to do is identify and recognize that the conditions we will be working in are creating error-likely situations.
Ask the Right Questions