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FACE Report: Father and son painters killed when ladder contacts power line

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Case report: #71-210-2021
Issued by: Washington State Fatality Assessment and Control Evaluation Program
Date of report: Nov. 7, 2020

A 55-year-old painting contractor and his 27-year-old son were electrocuted when the aluminum extension ladder they were moving contacted an overhead power line. On the day of the incident, the wind was blowing 15-30 mph, with gusts up to 40 mph. The crew had finished painting for the day and was cleaning up the site. The contractor and his son were moving the ladder, which was at its full extension of 48 feet. The two were holding the ladder in a vertical position as the son attempted to retract the ladder’s extension. A gust of wind blew the ladder into a 14,460-volt overhead power line, and an electrical current traveled from the power line through the ladder and through both workers. The contractor died at the scene. His son died nearly a month later.

To prevent similar occurrences, employers should:

  • Identify the location of overhead power lines as part of an initial worksite survey for jobs involving the use of ladders. Note power line heights and distances from work areas on site diagrams.
  • Perform a job hazard analysis of the worksite.
  • Use nonconductive ladders around power lines.
  • Lower extension ladders and transport them horizontally.
  • Be aware of windy conditions while moving a ladder near power lines.

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