Residents concerned over low power lines in Richmond neighborhood after man is electrocuted

Richmond

RICHMOND, Va (WRIC) – A 45-year-old man was killed by electric shock in Richmond Monday night while working on a home with a crew on the city’s northside.

Now, the Richmond Police Department is investigating what happened with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).

“It’s a tragedy,” said neighbor Chris Claiborne who lives one door over from where the electrocution happened. “You’ve got to be very careful out here.”

Neighbors told 8News the man was working on the roof of the home in the dark when he was electrocuted.

An 8News crew was out at the intersection of Highland Street and Carolina Avenue on Tuesday and saw how low and close the power lines are to the house where the electrocution happened.

“You’ve got trees hanging over power lines,” Claiborne said.

He said those need to be cut, especially with all of the renovations happening in the neighborhood recently.

“They’ve got a lot of old houses out here that, you know, have that old wiring,” Claiborne said.

Dominion Energy warns anyone who’s working near a power line outside to stay at least 10 feet away from it and to be cautious when carrying a ladder or pole near the lines.

The company suggests kites, remote control planes or drones never be flown near power lines. If something gets caught in a power line, they recommend just leaving it there.


Other safety tips regarding power lines from Dominion Energy include:

  • Beware of trees with power lines running through them. Trees contain enough moisture to conduct electricity.
  • Keep clear of power lines that cross bodies of water. Water levels can fluctuate due to power generation and weather conditions, so it’s difficult to determine the exact clearance of these power lines.
  • Be cautious when carrying items like a ladder or pole.
  • Keep all ladders and other tools in the SAFE ZONE, at least 10 feet from any power lines. Make sure if the ladder fell, it wouldn’t contact any power lines or other electrical equipment. This rule also applies to television and radio antennas.
  • Outdoor outlets should be on a circuit protected by a ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI). GFCIs can be added as a temporary plug-in adapter, added as a replacement outlet or even installed as a circuit breaker. Check with an electrician for options.
  • Teach children to never fly kites near power lines or around electrical substations. Balls or other objects tossed or falling into an electrical substation should be left there.
    • Also teach children not to climb or play in trees if there are power lines nearby or lines touching or growing through the branches.

Claiborne said it’s not only about worker safety but also about making sure the environment is safe for them to work in.

“I think the city should come around and you know, look at everything, because you’ve got kids out here also. And, you know, they can easily grab something and not know what it is and get electrocuted,” Claiborne explained.

Another neighbor said the work should not have been going on in the dark where overhead lines could not be seen. They said the accident is unfortunate, but if the safety of the workers had been paramount, it could have been prevented.

8News reached out to the City of Richmond’s Public Utilities Department to see if they have plans to cut trees or lift power lines to make the area safer but has not heard back.

Dominion Energy confirms the power line the man was electrocuted by did not belong to their company.

Stay with 8News for updates.

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