HOLLISTON (CBS) – Safety experts say one simple move could have prevented tragedy in Holliston this week: de-energizing the electric lines.
Twenty-six-year-old Ryan Hopkins was trimming a tree when his gas powered metal trimmer hit a high-voltage power line Tuesday. Hours later, he died from his injuries at Mass General Hospital.
Only one week earlier, another worker had a similar accident when a branch he was cutting hit a power line. He went to the hospital with critical injuries. The two previous electric shock injuries reported in Chelmsford also involved tree trimming crews.
Bob Burns, who’s a trainer with the Massachusetts Coalition for Occupational Safety and Health, says if tree branches are less than 10 feet from a power line, workers should call the utility.
“If you can turn it off, de-energize it…The next best thing to do, shield it. The utility companies will do their best to send somebody out. They’ll put these rubber coverings on,” he said.
If it seems like a hassle, he says, just think of the lives that could have been saved.
MassCOSH reports that one in every eight workplace deaths in Massachusetts last year involved tree work. There were four tree fatalities in 2012, and so far two in 2013.
Follow Christina on Twitter @HagerWBZ.