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DATE: April 20, 1998

INCIDENT TYPE: Electrocution

LOCATION: District 1


THE ACCIDENT: On September 18, 1997 a "Drill Team" consisting of a Geologist/Party Chief, Lead Foundation Driller, and two Foundation Drillers were preparing for a job near Hwy. 101 in Mendocino County. The Geologist/Party Chief had selected a drill site earlier and the drill crew had identified the location and begun to set up the drill rig. Underground Service Alert had been notified and this site was cleared for drilling. The drill rig was positioned and wooden blocks were placed under the rear leveling pads. The front leveling pads of the drill rig were placed on bare ground. Once the drill rig was positioned and stabilized, the mast was slowly raised into position. The mast contacted one of three overhead power lines. A Foundation Driller preparing to set the pin in the mast was shocked and knocked to the ground. The other Foundation Driller was picking up a drill casing from the drill rig and was also shocked. One employee noted that fire was coming off the front leveling pads, which started a small brush fire. Both Foundation Drillers were transported to a local hospital for physical check-ups. Both employees were released to full duty and returned to the job site.

A similar accident occurred recently in District 7 when an electrical crew setting a light standard swung the standard into a 12,500-volt power line. Fortunately the employees involved in this accident were not severely injured.

CONCLUSIONS: This crew was very fortunate that the front jack pads were placed on bare ground which dissipated much of the electricity and prevented the employees from being shocked more severely. None of the employees at the site recalled seeing the power lines directly overhead (approximately 15 to 20 feet off the ground) before the accident.

RECOMMENDATIONS: Always check overhead clearances before elevating any aerial equipment. The Caltrans Maintenance Manual, Chapter 8, Section 8.40 (Working Near Utilities, Overhead Utilities) details the procedures that are to be followed when working near high voltage power lines. This section of the Maintenance Manual and any applicable Codes of Safe Operating Practices should be reviewed and followed at all times.


Released 5/5/98

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