This Fatal Facts Toolbox Talk was created in support of OSHA’s Focus Four Training Campaign. OSHA representatives, safety professionals from GBCA member companies, and union representatives from the Building Trades Council of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania & Vicinity met to develop these safety resources to share with the region’s construction industry.

FATAL FACTS describe cases that are representative of employers who failed to identify and correct hazardous working conditions, leading to fatalities at their worksites. This document offers ideas on how to identify and correct these hazards, and to educate workers about safe work practices.

Click below to download the Toolbox Talk as a handout (includes Sign-In Sheet).




Fatal Facts: Electrocution from Working Near Energized Lines

Brief Description of Incident

A 62 year-old male employee and a coworker were engaged in roofing work on a residential building. The employees were utilizing a 40-foot aluminum extension ladder to gain access and to supply roofing and flashing material to the roof work area.

The employee carried a 10-foot piece of aluminum flashing up the ladder and attempted to hand the material to his coworker on the roof. The flashing came into electrical contact with a 13.2 kilovolt power line which was located 6 feet from the edge of the roof. The electric shock caused the employee to go into cardiac arrest and resulted in his electrocution.

The company owner was present during the work operation and was aware of the proximity of the energized power line. The employees were not utilizing fall protection and had not been provided with ladder safety or fall protection training.


Likely Causes of Incident

The following are likely causal factors: major, unplanned, or unintended contributors of the incident. Eliminating causal factors would have either prevented the incident or reduced its
severity. It can also stop the potential frequency of similar incidents.

  • Aluminum ladder: This was the incorrect type of ladder to use.
  • Location of the ladder: The ladder was within 10 feet of an energized power line.
  • No effort to contact the utility company to cover (to insulate) the power lines first.
  • No training on electrical hazards or other hazards in relation to electrical hazards.


Incident Prevention

The following actions could have prevented this incident:

  • Call the utility company to cover (insulate), move, or de-energize the power lines.
  • Provide training to workers for hazards associated when working near energized power lines.
  • Workers as well as conductive tools and materials must remain 10 feet from energized power lines.
  • Access the roof from a different side of the building, away from energized powerlines.


Hazard Prevention and Control

Remember the following to prevent and control the hazards that led to this incident:

  • Conduct site-specific safety planning to identify hazards present on the jobsite.
  • Ensure that all workers receive adequate training, in this case, in electrical safety.
  • Create thorough pre-planning and written safety plans, such as Job Hazard Analysis (JHA) forms and checklists.


Can you provide any additional insights or suggestions on how to identify or avoid the hazards in this incident?

  • Discuss.


Toolbox Talk Safety Huddle Questions

Consider the following questions about the hazards and available resources on this jobsite:

  • What other electrical hazards do you routinely address on your worksites?
  • What training do you provide for your employees that pertains to these hazards?
  • What types of prevention have you tried at your sites?
  • What approaches have worked well in hazard control?
  • Has anyone had any recent incident experiences? What went wrong? What was the corrective action?
  • What type of training has been provided to your supervisors?
  • Is there any tracking of their hazard identification and correction activities?
  • Does anyone do plan reviews after the project has started? Do the general plans get modified for site specific activities?


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