Examples of Electrical Accidents

Every year Tukes receives information on new serious accidents involving overhead lines and underground cables that have, in the worst cases, lead to loss of human lives.

The greatest number of accidents involving overhead lines happen with 20 kV lines. There is a large number of lines over 20 kV, they are often located near housed areas and they are not as easy to notice as large transmission lines.

The damage and accident register maintained by Tukes includes over 40 accidents like this from the 2000’s, most of which involved lifting machines and other machinery. Below are a few incidents recorded in the VARO register. See also fatal electrical accidents.

Examples of serious accidents involving overhead lines and underground cables


Driver killed by an electric shock from an open wire
A driver intended to unload a bag of fertiliser. The driver lifted the cover of his truck, which hit a 20 kV open wire and lead to a fatal electric shock because the driver was leaning into the truck with his shoulder.


Machinery contractor receives a fatal electric shock from an open wire
A machinery contractor was straightening a supporting structure on a construction site with a 110 kV open wire. While standing on the ground, he steered the hoisting apparatus attached to his tractor into an adjacent 110 kV open wire. The contractor was killed and a nearby helper was injured. The situation also led to a wildfire.


Short circuit causes severe burns to a worker
A subcontractor was working on a curbside pavement. A worker struck an iron bar through a protecting tube of a medium voltage cable and into the 10 kV cable.  He tried to remove the bar with a plastic sealing-off line stand which caused a short circuit that injured another worker on the other side of the excavation. The worker received severe burns and was taken to medical care.


A tree fell onto an open wire resulting in a man getting an electric shock from the ground
A man was logging down trees. According to him, he was aware of the adjacent 20 kV open wire. However, at some point he forgot about the wire and chopped down a medium sized birch directly onto the wire. As he noticed that the tree was about to fall onto the wire he ran away from it. That is when he felt an electric shock in both of his feet. He was not in contact with the tree that touched the conductors when he received the electric shock. Evidently, the man got the electric shock from pace voltage as he was leaving the scene. An ambulance was called, and the man was taken to a hospital for monitoring for one day.