Today, it's about three workers who get electrocuted from an overhead power line while doing work on a college campus with a boom truck. It reminded me of my family and the work I grew up listening to them discuss. My grandfather, father, brother and brother-in-law all worked, at one time or another, for the Narragansett Electric Company in Providence, Rhode Island. Narragansett Electric is now National Grid. The company mascot for Narragansett Electric was during my childhood, Mr. Reddy Kilowatt. Reddy was a guy whose head was a light bulb, he was always talking about safety. Injury by electrocution is a major concern for families that work around electricity. So we learned that Reddy was our friend. As a family we always worried about line work due in part to injury by electrocution. Today is about just that, workers getting electrocuted while working around energized power lines.

Reddy Kilowatt

You’ve got three workers for Midwest Glass and Glazing on the Creighton Campus Universityusing a boom truck when the boom comes into contact with an electrical line that was energized. Could this have been avoided?

Let’s start our quick analysis by saying the workers are all alive and expected to live. The news articles indicate only one was seriously injured and that’s terrific. For those who don’t know what happens when the human body is electrocuted, you should know the electricity travels through the human body seeking out weak points. Those weak points are under the upper arms, inside the thighs, for guys their penis and sometimes parts of the head. Those parts blow out – yes it’s a terrible injury. So if only one worker was burned the other two are quite lucky.

The one suffering the worst burns was 46-years-of-age, not sure if he’s married or with dependent children, but injury to any worker is significant when electricity is involved with causing the injury. Rehabilitation is long and hard and may never be complete or bring you back to normal. Just think for a second about your brain being short circuited by an extremely high electrical charge and how the gray matter would be affected. And take a moment to think about the effect of electricity on the human nervous system. The effects are very serious indeed.

Narragansett Electric PSA with Ben Franklin

How do workers protect themselves? Well, they can first make sure that all lines they are working around are de-energized. Never assume any line is not energized, assume just the opposite. Demand that all lines be de-energized by the power or electrical company that owns them before any work is performed. If the boom is being used near a power line, stay away from it. If your supervisor calls you a wimp call his supervisor.

Make sure the guy running the boom is properly trained. Before taking one of these jobs learn the ins and outs of using one safely. Read the owner's manual that comes with the boom truck.

All three workers that were injured are entitled to workers' compensation benefits. They will first receive medical coverage, then weekly indemnity benefits (a pay check) and after that permanency benefits, if they have permanent impairment or restrictions.

Well, that's all for today. I'm just getting back from vacation and there's too much to do around here today.

Steve Lombardi
Iowa personal injury, workers' compensation, motorcycle, quadriplegic, paraplegic, brain injury, death
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