Jackson Purchase Energy fined $20,000 in lineman death

Updated: Jan. 3, 2018 at 12:36 PM CST
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The Kentucky Public Service Commission fined Jackson Purchase Energy Corp. for safety violations in connection with the electrocution death of a lineman in January 2017.

In the order issued on January 3, 2018, the PSC said it found eight separate safety violations and assessed the maximum penalty of $2,500 for each one. Jackson Purchase was ordered to pay the $20,000 penalty within 30 days.

The lineman, Joshua Franklin, was electrocuted on Jan. 6, 2017 when he came into contact with a 7,200-volt line that he and another lineman were sent to fix.

The violations cited by PSC are related mostly to Jackson Purchase employees failing to take safety precautions that are required when working on lines that are or may be energized.

According to PSC, physical evidence at the scene and other information gathered by PSC investigators suggested that the employees assumed the line was not conducting electricity. However, the uninjured employee, who was the supervisor at the scene, stated that the repairs started with the assumption that the line was energized.

The supervisor also said that a safety device on the line indicated there was no power flowing through the line. According to PSC, an inspection of the safety device later found that the device was faulty and was falsely indicating that the power was off when in fact it was not.

PSC found that the most likely explanation for the accident was that Franklin wrongly assumed that the line was not energized when he went up in a bucket truck to start making repairs.

The commission concluded that Franklin did not test the line to make sure that it was not energized. This led Franklin to forego the use of protective equipment, the PSC found.

Jackson Purchase Energy is one of three electric distribution cooperatives that own and purchase power from Big Rivers Electric Corp. Jackson Purchase is based in Paducah and serves about 30,000 customers in six western Kentucky counties.

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