A federal investigation revealed that a mine’s lack of hazard awareness training and failure to properly warn of overhead high-voltage power lines led to the electrocution of an 18-year-old truck driver.
The truck driver, who didn’t have a commercial driver license (CDL), was electrocuted when his trailer’s tarping mechanism came in contact with an energized overhead high-voltage power line.
Activated tarping mechanism while in transit
On Nov. 17, 2021, Luigi Cicillini, an 18-year-old customer truck driver without a CDL, arrived at East Coast Mines, a surface construction sand and gravel mine located in East Quogue, New York.
Cicillini picked up a load of processed material and drove to the scale. He departed from the scale at 3:07 p.m. and began traveling down the mine access road on his way to another destination.
While traveling down the access road, Cicillini activated the automatic tarping mechanism on his trailer to cover the load. As he did this, the truck and trailer swerved to the left side of the road, causing the mechanism to contact one of the three 7,000-volt overhead power lines.
Electrocuted while attempting to re-enter truck cab
A truck driver who was traveling the access road directly behind Cicillini called the teen worker via CB radio to warn him he was veering into the power lines, but he didn’t receive a response. This driver’s dash camera recorded the incident.
After the tarping mechanism contacted the power line, Cicillini drove forward about 30 feet, stopped and backed his tractor-trailer up parallel with the high-voltage lines.
With the tarping mechanism still in contact with the power line, Cicillini exited the truck. As he stepped off the truck and contacted the ground, Cicillini received an electrical shock and was thrown away from the truck. He stood up, attempted to re-enter the truck’s cab and was electrocuted when he touched the vehicle.
The truck driver who was following Cicillini called for help and the mine’s weighmaster called 9-1-1 at 3:10 p.m. Local police officers and emergency medical personnel arrived on scene at 3:13 p.m. They performed CPR on Cicillini and then transported him via ambulance to a hospital. He was pronounced dead in the hospital at 4:16 p.m.
Mine had no posted tarping procedure, warning signs
Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) investigators found that Cicillini didn’t typically drive the truck involved in the incident to perform deliveries. His main job duties with the company, which was owned and operated by his family, was as a mechanic. MSHA stated in its investigation report that “the act of deploying a tarp while traveling down the mine road is not a normal work practice for experienced truck drivers.”
Investigators noted that the mine didn’t have:
- a posted tarping procedure
- site-specific hazard awareness training, or
- warning signs regarding the high-voltage power lines.
All of these things contributed to the incident, according to MSHA.
MSHA investigators found the root causes of the incident were due to the mine operator’s failure to:
- prevent operation of equipment within 10 feet of energized overhead high-voltage power lines, and
- provide adequate site-specific hazard awareness training.
The mine operator has since posted signs warning truck drivers about the overhead high-voltage power lines along the mine road and installed site-specific hazard awareness training signage that includes a policy for tarping loaded trucks leaving the mine.