An experienced lineman
electrocuted on the job had isolated the wrong line then lied
to his employer prior to his death about carrying out proper
safety checks to ensure the line was not live, a coroner's
inquest has heard.
Stuart Andrew Kenning, 48, of Mossburn, died instantly about
9am on October 27, 2012, when he touched a live 11kv wire on
a farm near Mossburn.
He and his colleague Marlon McLean worked for Power Services
Ltd as contractors to PowerNet Ltd and were repairing a power
pole and line downed by a falling tree.
Mr McLean told coroner David Crerar at a hearing in
Invercargill yesterday he and Mr Kenning had worked together
On the Friday night, Mr Kenning rang him about the repair
job, saying he would isolate the line that night and meet him
there the next morning.
Several witnesses outlined the procedure for "de-energising"
a line before repair work could begin. It involved removing
fuses, using a voltage testing device to make sure the line
was dead, connecting earthing cables and attaching an orange
"danger" tag at the isolation point.
The person doing the procedure then contacted the system
controller, who logged the de-energising procedure as
complete and issued a worksite access permit.
Mr McLean said as he was driving to the site at 8.14am, he
heard Mr Kenning radio the control room confirming he had
de-energised the line, tested it and applied one earthing
cable. A recording of that conversation was also played at
Mr McLean said he and Mr Kenning straightened the pole using
a crane Mr McLean operated. He saw Mr Kenning begin to climb
a ladder to work on the line when he heard the distinctive
noise of an electric shock.
"It knew it was bad. I saw Stuart holding the line with one
hand, then fall to the ground."
Mr McLean called the systems controller, telling him to ring
for an ambulance. He also rang his Northern Southland
supervisor, Maurice Graham.
He said he started CPR and continued for about 30 minutes
until he was too tired to continue. About that time Mr Graham
arrived and took over.
Mr McLean said he drove to the gate to guide the ambulance
in. It was then he noticed Mr Kenning had removed the fuses
for the line to the farmhouse, not the line which required
repair. The pole had been tagged, but no earthing cables had
Mr Crerar asked: "So Mr Kenning did not tell the truth when
he told the control room he had checked the line and applied
an earthing cable?"
Mr McLean replied: "That would be right."
Workplace New Zealand inspector Terry Keene said two earthing
cables and a voltage device were found in Mr Kenning's truck
at the farm.
He had mistakenly isolated the wrong line, but testing the
line would have alerted him to that, he said. Earthing the
worksite would also have protected him.
Mr Crerar said there might be value in having a second
lineman check the work of a colleague by using a formal check
He reserved his decision.