Just as a general rule of safety, workers who are setting up and using ladders should check for overhead power lines before putting a ladder in place – failing to do so could be fatal and is also against some state regulations.
Washington State’s Department of Labor & Industries recently released a report on a painting and carpentry contractor and his son who were both electrocuted when their aluminum extension ladder contacted an overhead power line as they were moving it.
It was a windy day with winds gusting up to 40 mph, and as the two men attempted to retract the ladder’s extension, a gust blew the ladder onto a 14,460-volt overhead power line, electrocuting them both.
The contractor died at the scene and his son died almost a month later.
Investigators found no measures in place to protect the ladder from contacting the power line, no considerations were made regarding the windy conditions and the ladder was placed closer to the power line than it should have been.
Washington State has two regulations regarding requirements for ladders when they’re used near powerlines, including WAC 296-155-428(17), which discusses deenergizing lines or using other protective measures, and WAC 296-876-40035, which covers ladders with nonconductive side rails.