County worker injured from 13,000-volt line

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By Tris DeRoma

A county lineman suffered a 13,000 volt shock Tuesday morning while working on a transformer on Quartz Street.
The worker, whose name was not released, left the Los Alamos Medical Center Wednesday after being treated for minor burns.

“They kept him overnight for observation, let him go (Wednesday) morning, then he returned to work actually,” said County Utilities Manager Tim Glasco. “But then they recommended he take some days to take it easy at home just in case something happens we don’t know about.”

The lineman was helping to restore power on Quartz Avenue Tuesday morning when the lineman came in contact with the wire, either through a tool he was holding or his actual hand. The current traveled through the left side of his body and departed through his left knee.

According to Glasco, the worker had taken voltage readings on the wire just before the accident, and the reading showed that the wire contained no electricity.

Glasco said the lineman survived because of his clothing and the working conditions.

“It’s all about what kind of personal protective equipment you’re wearing, and how dry the ground is,” Glasco said.
The worker was kneeling on the ground when he accidentally placed either his hand or a tool on or near a wire that was supposed to not have an current running through it. Glasco described the ground as dry and the lineman was wearing thick clothing. He was not wearing gloves.

The high amount of voltage also may have had something to do with the worker surviving the shock relatively unscathed.

“It knocked him away as soon it happened,” Glasco said, adding that if the worker made contact with currency that was in the hundreds of volts, instead of the thousands, it might have frozen him to the line, causing severe injury, or even death.

The county’s risk management office and the safety office are conducting an investigation into how the accident happened.