Center Mount Boom Left Up Makes Contact with Powerline
On a winter afternoon day in the Lake States, a logging business owner was training a new employee. The business owner and employee scaled-in and were directed by the scaler to unload the wood at a specified landing where the truck was to be unloaded.
The business owner was experienced and had delivered pulpwood to the facility on several occasions. The new employee had truck driving experience, but was delivering to this mill for the first time.
Unsafe Act and Condition
The entry to the small landing crossed underneath a powerline. No overhead powerlines crossed at the exit. The business owner and new employee, who was driving the vehicle, entered the landing from the wrong direction. Rather than passing the vehicle through and directing the driver to enter from the correct direction, the mill employee proceeded to unload the pulpwood. The business owner fully raised the boom of the center mount and then hopped back into the vehicle with the driver during unloading. No signs were posted at either the entry or exit reminding drivers to lower their booms.
The pulpwood was unloaded and the mill employee moved to another landing to unload trucks. During the unloading process, the business owner received a phone call. After unloading, the driver proceeded to exit the landing with the center mount boom fully extended. Upon leaving the landing, the boom slightly touched the power line. After crossing underneath the powerline, the business owner and driver were notified that they had left their boom up and made contact with the high voltage wire. The driver then exited the truck to lower the boom.
The driver and business owner, fortunately, were not injured. They scaled out and headed back to the job site. The contact of the boom and the powerline caused an outage for a large portion of the town and to a manufacturing facility that was supplied by the line. The business owner was liable for line repair and potentially the loss that was incurred by the manufacturing facility due to the power outage.
Safety Procedures if Contact is Made with Powerline
- Don’t panic. Remain in the vehicle until the line is de-energized.
- Don’t move towards the vehicle to render aid.
- Keep everyone away from the area. The vehicle and ground around could be energized.
- Contact scaler or appropriate mill authorities and notify them of the incident, the scaler can then implement safety protocol for this type of incident including contacting the local utility company.
- The machine should be moved well away from the powerline, if possible.
If You Must Leave the Vehicle for Safety Reasons (Fire)
- DO NOT step down. Under no circumstances should you step down from the vehicle allowing part of your body to be in contact with the ground while touching the machine.
- Jump clear of the machine with your feet together. Because there may be hazardous voltage differential with the ground, you should jump with both feet together, maintain balance and shuffle across the affected area.
- DO NOT take large steps, making it possible for one foot to be in a high voltage area and the other foot to be in a lower voltage area.
- DO NOT touch any person who is in contact with energized equipment.
- After the victim has been cleared from contact with energized equipment, administer CPR if necessary, and seek immediate medical attention.
Other Safety Actions
- Establish clear communications between the truck driver, scaler and mill equipment operator.
- Place exit and entry signs at landings.
- Place “Is Your Boom Lowered” signs near powerlines.
- Maintain focus on the task at hand. DO NOT allow yourself to be distracted.