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The death of electrician in Savitaipale was caused by insufficient observance of safety instructions

Publication date 31.12.2013 9.00
Press release

The accidental death of an electrician in Savitaipale on 17 April 2013 was caused by insufficient observance of safety precautions. An electrician of a Polish contractor died of electric shock in an occupational accident at electric installation work on a 400 kV transmission line. According to the investigation carried out by the Finnish Safety and Chemicals Agency (Tukes), there were also defects in the operation of the persons responsible for the contractors' electrical safety. The investigation report of the accident in Savitaipale has been published on Tukes's website.

The accident occurred when a group of Polish electricians were correcting an assembly deviation detected in transmission line tower in the high-voltage overhead line between Yllikkälä and Huutokoski. When working on the transmission line tower, the work site must always be  earthed  for work without exceptions. This procedure protects electricians from electric shocks at work. In Savitaipale, the equipment used in earthing became disconnected due to poor securing to the wire and lead to the fatal shock. The induced voltage in the wire became fatal to the electrician.

Factors affecting in the background of the accident were different views on the supervision of electrical safety on the working site. In practise, the work for improving the transmission capacity of the high-voltage network in Savitaipale was joint responsibility of a consortium of two companies, a French and a Polish one, both of them specialised in construction of electric transmission systems.  The work had been ordered from the consortium by a Finnish main grid company whose project manager’s responsibility included safety coordination of the work.

 Tukes had already earlier paid attention to the actual possibilities of the French leader of electrical installation supervisor of electrical work to lead the work when located in France. According to the Electrical Safety Act, the supervisor of electrical work is responsible for the electrical safety in a company. In April 2013, the Polish company was not found in Tukes register of electrical contractors, where all operators in electrical installation work in Finland are to be registered.

On the basis of the accident investigation, the accident investigation team recommends the following actions in order to avoid similar accidents in future:

  • Responsible persons must actually participate in risk assessment of the work and be in close contact with the work processes on their responsibility. Supervisory staff must control that given instructions are followed and work is performed according to agreed procedures. Adequate supervision must be ensured in all situations.
  • In all electrical installation work carried out in Finland, requirements of national legislation and valid standards must be followed.  Contractors must be familiar with the local requirements regarding performance of electrical installation work in Finland when starting their activities in Finland.
  • During the last few years, induced voltage has caused several severe accidents and dangerous  situations at work with transmission lines. Instructions regarding earthings for work must be included in risk assessment of working security.
  • To be prepared for accidents at work in transmission line towers, detailed action plans, employee training and equipment are needed for proper rescue measures from towers.
  • Attention must be paid to understanding induced voltage as a phenomenon, related risks and correct work procedures. In networked operations on a joint working site, actions must be taken to ensure that parties involved in electrical installation keep each other well informed and coordinate their supervision activities on the same site. When operating on a joint working site, actions must be taken to ensure that parties involved in electrical installation keep each other well informed and coordinate their supervision activities.

 Summary of the Investigation Report

 Further information:
 Senior Advisor Sakari Hatakka, tel. +358 29 5052 562
Safety Engineer Ville Huurinainen, tel. +358 29 5052 111
E-mail: [email protected]