OSHA regulations provide that no employer shall permit an employee to work in such proximity to any part of an electric power circuit that the employee could contact the electric power circuit in the course of work, unless the employee is protected against electric shock by de-energizing the circuit and grounding it or by guarding it effectively by insulation or other means. 29 C. F. R. § 1926.416. This puts the burden on the employer, before work is begun, to check by inquiry or direct observation, or by instruments, whether any part of an energized electric power circuit, exposed or concealed, is so located that the performance of the work may bring any person, tool, or machine into physical or electrical contact with the electric power circuit.
The employer is to post and maintain proper warning signs where such a dangerous electrical circuit exists. The employer must advise employees of the location of such lines, the hazards involved, and the protective measures to be taken. If work is to be performed near overhead lines, the lines are supposed to be de-energized and grounded, or other protective measures are to be taken before work is started. If the lines are to be de-energized, arrangements shall be made with the person or organization that operates or controls the electric circuits involved to de-energize and ground them. If protective measures, such as guarding, isolating, or insulating, are provided, these precautions shall prevent employees from contacting such lines directly with any part of their body or indirectly through conductive materials, tools, or equipment.
We have represented many people who have been injured by contact with electricity, or their surviving family members. Incidents that readily come to mind include Christmas tree trimming for a city, unloading a truck under a power line, work in building an emergency levee during a flood near overhead power lines, metal ladders contacting power lines, and workers lifting up dewatering pipes to drive them into the ground below power lines. If you have been involved in an injury incident involving a power line, please call and speak with one of our experienced lawyers.