Utility workers and others who are involved in cleaning-up operations after storms in Colorado and elsewhere may not realize that they are putting their lives on the line. While flood waters can contain a brew of toxic chemicals and mold that could lead to long-term health problems, cutting damaged trees can be deadly — particularly near power lines. This was precisely what led to an incident in another state in which a man was fatally injured at work.
Reportedly, a 31-year-old worker who was employed by a tree company was working on removing tree branches in order to restore electricity shortly before 4:30 a.m. on a recent Wednesday. Authorities say the power lines were damaged by a fallen tree. It is believed that the lines jumped upward when he lightened the load by cutting one section off the tree.
The power lines propelled the remaining portion of the tree upward, and when it came down, it fell on top of the worker. Although the fire chief says the worker wore the necessary personal protective equipment, it did not prevent his death. His co-workers rushed to help him, but he was already dead. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration inspectors will investigate the incident.
When a Colorado family loses a loved one who was fatally injured at work, the dependents can obtain financial assistance through the workers’ compensation insurance system. The program allows surviving family members to file death benefits claims to cover the costs of a funeral and burial. Additional survivors’ benefits are typically paid in the form of wage replacement for a predetermined number of years after the death of an employee.
Source: wbtv.com, “Utility worker killed while clearing debris in Alexander County“, Oct. 25, 2017