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Tower Painter Electrocuted, 2nd Injured

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

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A New Jersey painter working on a high-voltage transmission tower was electrocuted and fell 70 feet to his death, striking his partner below him and knocking him to the ground as well, authorities said.

The second painter, who fell 50 feet, was critically injured.

Neither painter was wearing a harness, police said.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration was investigating the accident, which occurred Thursday (Oct. 25) in Edison, NJ.

Transmission Tower Painting

The accident occurred about noon on a tower owned by PSE&G (Public Service Electric and Gas Company) along Route 1. The utility serves nearly three-quarters of New Jersey.

The painters worked for PSE&G subcontractor Tower Maintenance Corp., which describes itself as a unionized, woman-owned and -managed industrial painting and lead removal contractor based in New York.

Transmission Tower lines
Truthanado / Wikimedia Commons

One painter fell from 70 feet up, knocking off his partner 20 feet below.

The company lists multiple certifications and training on its website and says it has completed projects for numerous public authorities and utilities.

“Tower Maintenance personnel are trained for specialized field work requiring substantial experience,” the site says.

The company could not be reached for comment Tuesday (Oct. 30). Phone service was disrupted throughout the Northeast, due to Hurricane Sandy.

70-Foot Fall

The painters’ names were not immediately available.

Edison Police Lt. Sal Filannino said that one painter had been working 70 feet up on the tower when he inadvertently came in contact with a live, 26,000-volt wire.

The painter fell, striking his partner, who was working 20 feet below, Filannino said. Both painters fell the rest of the way to the ground.

Route 1 was shut down for 45 minutes in both directions as Medevac helicopters landed in an adjacent Home Depot parking lot to airlift the painters to local hospitals.

Investigations Underway

The electrocuted painter was later pronounced dead at John F. Kennedy Medical Center in Edison; the other was being treated at Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital in Edison.

Robert Wood Johnson had no update on the painter’s condition Tuesday.

"PSE&G responded to the location and is working with local police and fire officials to determine how the accident occurred," a PSE&G spokeswoman said in a statement.


Tagged categories: Accidents; Fall protection; Health and safety; Industrial Contractors; Transmission Towers

Comment from Mike McCloud, (10/31/2012, 9:57 AM)

I'm sorry for the loss as I hate to see any accidents but I can't think of any reason as to why the fall was not preventable. This effects families, companies and two industries. Two clips would have saved one and possibly two lives. A simple procedure.

Comment from Raymond Fitzgerald, (10/31/2012, 11:47 AM)

With the weather conditions the way they were,what were they doing working outside, let alone doing high work. It is sad when something like this could have been prevented.

Comment from Luc N. Turenne, (11/2/2012, 3:41 PM)

I can only feel sympathy for the respective families. The problem here started much before the lack of fall-arrest. The utility company and contractor should both know that a safety watch trained in high voltage " limits of approach" is required . The impact on the the two companies is irrelevant unless the workers went there on their own without anyone's knowledge. ( HIGHLY UNLIKELY)

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