RE: Your Groundman’s Accident Report
Dear Safety Director,
I am replying to your email requesting additional information for Section #3 of our company accident report, I put “Poor Planning” as the cause of the accident that happened on the crew. Since I am the Foreman of the crew I will share the full story. I hope these details will help you understand what happened.
My line crew was working on replacing a pole that had been identified as being rotten at the top. We had to work the job hot, several businesses were on the line and they did not want us to outage them. The pole that was being replaced was in an alley and several fences and buildings made for a tight job. Only one truck could fit in the alley at a time so we put the bucket truck in the alley, covered, and then fanned out the primary on the pole that was being replaced. We then moved the bucket truck out, brought the line truck in and set the new pole; we then swapped again, putting the bucket truck back in the alley to transfer the primary. After the pole had been replaced and transferred.
My Lineman in the bucket asked me, “instead of swapping the bucket and line truck again to pull the pole, could we just top the pole in pieces and lower them with the handline? “Since this was near the end of the day and it was hot, I thought this would save some time. “Great idea!” I said. I was thinking we would then have extra time to “slow roll” back to the Barn. My lineman placed the handline pulley on the new pole; he split the handline and tied the return line around the top of the old pole. The Lineman also wanted to clean out his bucket so he loaded a grunt bucket up with some old pole hardware and clipped it on the handline clip next to the old pole. He yelled out to my Groundman, “HANDLINE.” My Groundman is just a young skinny kid, right out of high school, a real go-getter; he is always trying to do things to impress everyone. He knew that the top of the pole would be heavy when it was cut off so he wrapped the fall line of the handline around his hand a couple of times to make sure the rope would not slip out of his hand. Well, the Lineman misjudged and cut off too large a piece of the old pole with the chainsaw, with physics being what it is, the Groundman was immediately launched off the ground and upwards at a high rate of speed.
As the Groundman was racing up the pole about half way up he collided with the cutoff pole and grunt bucket that was coming down at an equally fast speed. When he was hit, he broke his collar bone and nose. This only slowed him down slightly. The pole and bucket then passed him and continued towards the ground. When he reached the top of the handline, his hand was pulled into the pulley and couples of his fingers were broken. When the pole hit the ground, the knot the lineman had tied around it came loose which lightened the load. Now the groundman was falling back towards the ground at a high rate of speed, when he passed the grunt bucket with the hardware, which was on the way back up, the bucket hit him right in the groin. The Groundman finally landed on the ground right on top of the cutoff pole and broke both feet. As he was laying there crying in pain, I think he was thinking he was just glad to be alive. Unfortunately, he lost focus, let go of the handline and cried out for help. It was then that the grunt bucket with the pole hardware fell back to the ground and hit him in the head fracturing his skull.
I hope this helps you to understand how the Groundman hurt himself. I am happy to report that he is in the hospital but in good spirits; he is looking forward to returning to the crew in a couple of months. The doctor said he might have a permanent limp from the broken feet but is lucky in that he should still be able to have children.
Sincerely, Seymour Payne
“Opinions expressed are solely my own and may not express the views or opinions of my employer.”