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2 dead, 2 others critically injured after a string of electrocutions in a single day

Ontario’s Electrical Safety Authority is pleading with people to stay safe around power lines after two people were killed by electrocution and two others were critically injured in a single day in Ontario.

Multiple electrocution incidents in Ontario prompt Electrical Safety Authority warning

A worker was electrocuted and killed in Vaughan on Sept. 19 when a drill boom on a truck made contact with overhead power lines. (Jeremy Cohn/CBC)

Ontario's Electrical Safety Authority is pleading with people to stay safe around power lines after two people were killed by electrocution and two others were critically injured in a single day in Ontario.

The authority said in a news release that the injuries stem from three incidents where workers on job sites came into contact with overhead electrical wires.

"This was a cluster of events that we haven't seen before, and we don't understand at this point in time if this was just an aberration," said Joel Moody, chief public safety officer with the Electrical Safety Authority (ESA).

"What we do know is that these instances happened, and unfortunately there were two deaths and two critical injuries … and ESA wants to extend our condolences to those families who were affected by these incidents."

The provincial Ministry of Labour has confirmed that one of the deaths happened just before 9 p.m. Thursday, when a worker died in Vaughan.

"A worker sustained fatal injuries due to an electrical contact when [a] drill boom made contact with overhead power lines," said spokesperson Charlene Millett in a statement.

Joel Moody is the chief public safety officer with Ontario's Electrical Safety Authority. He says this cluster of electrocutions just reinforces the importance of being vigilant when people are working around overhead power lines. (Kelda Yuen/CBC)

She said the worker was employed by Pontil Drilling Services, which, according to the business's website, does work ranging from geotechnical and environmental drilling to utility locating.

The company declined a request for comment.

The ministry says it has issued six requirements to the drilling company and its investigation is still ongoing.

A second person died on Sept. 19 at a private residence in Kawartha Lakes, near Peterborough. The ministry says two self-employed workers were trimming a hedge in an elevated work platform when it made contact with a power line.

One person died, while the other sustained critical injuries, Millett said. Two ministry inspectors went to the scene, but no orders were issued.

The third electrocution happened on the same day in Scarborough, when a worker was injured when a tower crane hit an overhead power line.

The Ministry of Labour says it is investigating 3 electrocution incidents, including this one in Vaughan. (Jeremy Cohn/CBC)

The ministry says the employer in that case was construction company Darcon Inc. The company didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.

"Our thoughts are with the family and colleagues of the workers who passed away," Millett said. "Our investigation is ongoing."

Minister of Labour Monte McNaughton said his "thoughts and prayers" are with the families and friends of the workers who died and were injured.

"Ministry officials are currently investigating these incidents," McNaughton said in a statement. "We take them very seriously and are ensuring any concerns will be adequately addressed."

According to the ESA, there are usually only two electrical deaths a year in Ontario on average, which makes two in a 24-hour period all the more unusual.

"Those two deaths are two deaths too many," Moody said.

In the last 10 years, 19 people have died from electrocution in the province, he said.

All electrical incidents are preventable, he added.

The ESA recommends a number of tips when working around electrical wires, including watching for hidden power lines that can be hidden by foliage, being aware while driving dump trucks, and keeping equipment away from power lines.

adam.carter@cbc.ca

About the Author

Adam Carter

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Adam Carter is a Newfoundlander who now calls Toronto home. He enjoys a good story and playing loud music in dank bars. You can follow him on Twitter @AdamCarterCBC or drop him an email at adam.carter@cbc.ca.

With files from Kelda Yuen

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