Characterizing the Risk of Electrical Contact to Arborists
2021 John W. Goodfellow, BioCompliance Consulting, Inc, Co-PI John Ball, PhD
Electrical contact has been among the most common cause of injury to arborist, and about 15% of all fatalities (typically 20-40) each year. The hazards associated with working in proximity of energized electrical conductors is a significant focus of the industry’s ANSI Z133 Safety Requirements for Arboricultural Operations.
The 2021 Tree Fund UARF Grant funds a project involves an assessment of risks to arborists from potential adverse exposure to electrical currents and voltages and includes four tasks:
1. Cataloging and summarizing electrical contact incidents that were the result of adverse exposure by arborists to electrical currents and voltages, based on US Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Fatal and Nonfatal Injury database, OSHA Fatality and Catastrophe Investigation reports, emergency response databases and industry experience with electrical contact incidents.
2. Conduct high voltages testing of a progressive series of fault pathway lengths through branches, defining the levels of exposure to voltages and currents through a branch in contact with a 15kV class conductor.
3. Developing a series of representative case study incident scenarios used to define the likelihood of electrical contact, the level of exposures to fault currents and voltage gradients, and the medical consequences of such exposure.
4. Once defined, risk mitigation measures will be identified that may be appropriate for inclusion in the next edition (2022) ANSI Z133. The current safety standards in ANSI Z133 American National Standard for Arboricultural Operations – Safety Requirements (2017) pertinent to electrical hazards will be reviewed. Each of the incidents reviewed in this study will be coded to specific ANSI Z133 standards in place that are intended avoid, eliminate, or reduce the hazard. This dataset will be used to develop case study scenarios representative of these incidents, defined in terms of the likelihood of electrical contact, the level of exposures to fault currents and voltage gradients, and the medical consequences of such exposure. Once defined, risk mitigation measures will be identified. The intent is that this work will support further development of industry standards and best management practices. Results from this investigation will provide guidance to the ANSI Z133 committee and specifically the Electrical Hazards (Section 4) taskforce as they prepare revision for next edition of the Standard (2022)
Funding Duration: 1.25 years
Grant Program: Utility Arborist Research Fund Grant
Grant Title: Characterizing the Risk of Electrical Contact to Arborists
Researcher: John W. Goodfellow
Peer Reviewed Publications from Grant:
General Audience/Trade Publications:
For more information on this project, contact the researcher via TREE Fund at firstname.lastname@example.org.