View Full Version : Never Hoped To Post My Own Story!
02-16-2008, 09:36 PM
No official incident reports were written up, so I'm going to leave out company names/locations.
Anyways, we were installing buzzard boards on a 500kv line which was dead, grounded out, with insulated shield wire. At the morning safety meeting I asked repeatedly if the shield wire was grounded out, the consisten answer was "Yes! Its safe to touch!". When we bonded onto the shield wire from the helicopter, my buddy got a little zap, which can be quite normal if there is a faulty connection in our wand, just catching a little static from the chopper, 3 more of us transferred onto the structure with no problems. We did our work, and were ready to get back on the bird. One of the other companies guys went up to the top of the goathead, bonded back onto the helicopter, but when he went to attach his lanyard he called down that he was getting bit. I went with the thought that he was inexperienced, and perhaps was getting some of the static from the bird. I went up to the top of the goathead, and tested the shield wire 3 times with the back of my hand with no issues. As I held onto the shield wire for stability, I reach down to grab my lanyard, released my grouper hook and went to put it on the shield wire, thats when I got locked up. Full on convulsions, tried to push myself off, but anyone whose been hit before knows it just don't work. It let up, I tried to hook my grouper on but in .5seconds it was back on me. Temporary blackout, woke up falling backwards off the goathead, couldn't move my arms, only thought I had was what was the best way to land after a 90 ft. fall. Just as I passed the bridge, my left leg caught a piece of lacing directly behind the knee, hanging me up. My guys were there in a heartbeat to get me up. Waved the bird off, got our heads straight and climbed down.
They call them PERSONAL protective grounds for a reason. Always do your OWN grounding. We've resolved the problem now by grounding the shield wire to the structure we're working on. Even if you can visualize the grounds half-a-span away from you, do your own. Everyone out there be safe.
02-16-2008, 10:59 PM
Nasty! How far did you fall before your leg hooked up? Is it OK? (I guess it can't be too bad if you climbed down.)
It would only take about 30mA up to lock you onto a wire. That could be down to something as simple as just a dirty connection on the safety bond.
Glad you're OK.
02-16-2008, 11:10 PM
It was around 15-20ft from the goathead down to the bridge. I tell ya what, there must be something planned for me later in life, because there is no way in hell I should've been able to have that leg hook. Fellas on the crew started calling me Ninja :D
Funny thing too looking back on it, day BEFORE yesterday I finally filled out all my life insurance and accidental death/dismemberment stuff, yesterday morning one of the company guys was talking about how he's retiring in 3 years, and in the 27 he's been there he's never had an severe accident or fatality, and I made them bring the AED out. Sounds like I was asking for it don't it?
02-16-2008, 11:18 PM
Hi Ironline, sorry to here of your mishap. Glad to hear everything worked out and you are o.k.. I take it you don't use two safety lanyards so you are always safetied on. I am sure some guys feel it is not needed, but in this instance it would have saved you from the fall. Just a thought. Thanks for letting us know. Stories like this always make you think!
02-17-2008, 08:43 AM
The idea of 100% tie off has been bounced around before, but in the helo industry it doesn't really work. One of the base principles is never tie the helicopter down, never connect it to anything that it can't get away from, if that makes sense. So for instance, I'm hooked to the tower, getting ready to transfer, hook onto the helicopter, and blow an aneurysm or something and am immobilized. Now the pilot has had his helicopter tethered and he can't get away, so he pretty much gets to sit there and wait to run out of fuel before crashing. Good thought though!:D
US & CA Tramp
02-17-2008, 11:11 AM
Sounds like you got the capacitance off the shield wire. That can be nasty! Glad to hear you are OK, but you must be hurting a bit! Maybe a couple of slugs of Jack will help this weekend!
02-17-2008, 12:37 PM
Believe me, it took a couple 15-20 beers to get my head right that night! I cracked some ribs on the fall, thats probably the worst part, or the tetanus they made me get :mad:
02-17-2008, 04:21 PM
Did you dream about the accident afterwards?
02-17-2008, 05:24 PM
Nah ;) I normally don't dwell on things, don't know if I'm just a apathetic kind of person, or if I just lack the respect of my own life :D Even after it happened it was a "Whoa! That'll make for a cool story", but all bravado aside, yeah, every once in a while it will pop in my mind and haunt around a little bit. Heading to the hospital right now to make sure that my ribs are just cracked and not displaced or broken, be just my luck to end up with a friggin' punctured lung!
02-18-2008, 09:25 PM
Larry was telling a story very simular to yours today in class. Hope your doing alright, that must have felt insane!. Its still hard to belive you got your leg hooked in there like that.
02-20-2008, 11:42 PM
"We've resolved the problem now by grounding the shield wire to the structure we're working on."
It's an safe workpractice requirement you should have been doing in the 1st place. Not monday morning QB'ing but learn from the incident. Push that your company policy training and work methods meets and exceeds the minimum OSHA requirement:
"Equipotential zone." Temporary protective grounds shall be placed at such locations and arranged in such a manner as to prevent each employee from being exposed to hazardous differences in electrical potential.
It was once believed that bracket grounding was all that was needed to adequately protect a person on a transmission or distribution pole and that “personal protective grounds” or “work-site grounds” to establish an equipotential zone around a worker was not an absolutely necessary. As time has progressed and more studies performed, it's now a requirement that personal grounds are indeed needed and equipotential zones for workers are essential in maintaining a safe working environment for employees.
Insulate Isolate set up a ZEP and If it ain't grounded it aint dead.
Thanks for sharing your close call. God has blessed you.
02-21-2008, 10:39 AM
Very true partner, we've all used the theory of equipotential grounding when coming in contact with the phases themselves, but it also holds true with the shield wire when its insulated! God has blessed me...or he's just got some more **** to put me through to give him a laugh! :D
02-21-2008, 01:14 PM
What do you use to actually bond from the wire to the structure? While it's pretty easy to get a good low resistance connection on the wire itself, it's quite easy to get a bad connection onto metalwork that has a layer of oxide or paint. In some instances it could be a build up of dirt in a clamp that prevents good connection.
Humans are disappointingly fragile when it comes to electricity. It really doesn't take much of a potential difference to pass muscle clenchingly high current through our juicy bodies. Not helped much by the fact we ooze salty water when we work!
02-21-2008, 03:31 PM
We've got a wire ground attached to a short (2') hot stick with a cable going to a tower t-clamp. With the oxide and paint issues, we normally just grind the hell out of it with the teeth of the clamp until enough is rubbed off to ensure a good connection!
02-21-2008, 07:05 PM
But how do you KNOW you have a good connection. It's like stick welding... You think you've got a good connection, but sometimes you have to jiggle the clip until you can strike an arc, except in your case the first thing you're going to know about getting a bad earth is when you get zapped.
A permanently installed brass nut and bolt or copper tail would be useful. Hardest bit would be encouraging the painters not to paint over it.
02-22-2008, 01:38 PM
Thats an excellent idea, add it to our list eh? :D
02-22-2008, 08:52 PM
No official incident reports were written up, so I'm going to leave out company names/locations.
Why didn't you fill out an accident report?
02-22-2008, 09:18 PM
Our company did, the company we were working with chose not to.
02-27-2008, 09:10 PM
Lucky and I am so glad to hear it. Couple questions though. Were you bonded (with the bird) to the same point you were going to safety to? Did you bond the shield wire to the tower before you tried to safety off? Where were you positioned when you got hit? I am still confused as to what hit you, that situation it could be several things.
Prefered way (my opinion) would be to bond to the tower, bond the shield wire to the tower, take a wand with you, attach to the tower and transfer without touching the shield wire. Then wand on to the bird before removing the bond, remove bond and wand off. A suit would also be nice on 500. I have seen a lot off stuff in 20 yrs, insulated shield wire is some nasty s***. There is a boatload of juice on it especialy on a nice windy day.
You are 100% right about 2 safeties. In that job task it is more dangerous (right now) to transfer with 2 safeties.
Clive, when he said (buzzard board) let me tell you that "paint" aint what you have to worry about for a connection. It is a "heavy coat" but there is some arguement as to which end it comes out. You dont want to drink too much the night before. NASTY
02-29-2008, 08:38 PM
EXCELLENT point man, it was one of those days that it had been hot, just rained, and the wind was kicking up. The shield wire was NOT grounded to the tower, we were preparing to transfer off, and I'm pretty sure that I had bonded back onto the bird when I moved my safety. Could it be the static from the bird kicking onto the shield wire? Since the shield wire was insulated, any static from the helicopter would of course stay on the wire...Everything is kind of hazy as to the sequence now lol. Have done a lot of work DE-insulating shield wire, think thats the way to go!
02-29-2008, 09:35 PM
If you already removed the bond before you tried to remove your safety, that is where it went wrong. When you tried to remove your safety you became the bond, so it seems. Bond is last to go. It is crazy what those blades put off, especialy around hot 500. You touch the wrong thing as he's coming to get you and you are the only one that is not laughing.
03-01-2008, 12:39 PM
No brother, I had just put the wand onto the helicopter, the bond was still on the shield wire when it happened, we should've been in the same potential, Im thinking that when the wand made the connection any static coming off of the helicopter was going straight onto the shield wire and that might've been what got me. We were transferring OFF the tower ONTO the helicopter. Bond was still on the shield wire and the wand was on the helicopter, I kind of remember racing it to the ground...
03-01-2008, 09:53 PM
I misunderstood, well sounds as if the shield wire and bird were at same potential while you and tower were not?? Standing on a tower I didnt wand off so perfectly once, that sucks. We had the insulated shield wire jumpered though. Thats why I asked about it back then, thats some hot stuff.
Well at least you didn't win the race with the wand.
05-12-2012, 10:32 PM
good story IronLine....good details....glad your still with us.
05-13-2012, 06:05 AM
First time that I saw this thread, brings back some bad memories the last lineman to die at CL&P was on a insulated shield wire on a 345 line that was out of service because of storm damage, problem was this line ran parallel with two other lines for about 60 miles. This happened on the only insulated shield wire line built in Conn. after this happened they stopped using this type of construction.
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