Chris Williamson, 39, was electrocuted on Thursday, June 5 while making repairs to restore electrical service in the City of Florence, Alabama. Williamson worked for the city’s Electricity Department. Tom Smith with TimesDaily.com provides some initial information about the lineman’s death:
- A storm earlier in the day caused a tree to fall on an electrical line in the Hickory Hills area of Florence.
- Mayor Mickey Haddock said tree crews were dispatched to the scene to clear the fallen tree debris. Williamson was called upon to isolate the damaged line from the main feed.
- Williamson was working by himself, climbed the pole, and came in contact with a 7,200-volt line.
- Williamson worked for the City of Florence since 1993. He became a journeyman lineman in 2008. His obituary notes he was a member of IBEW Local #558.
Federal OSHA will not be investigating the death of Chris Williamson. The agency does not have authority to investigate work-related fatalities (or conduct any inspections for that matter) involving state, local or other public sector employees. There are about 305,000 government workers in Alabama who are not covered by the OSH Act. Nationwide, 8 million public sector workers fall outside of OSHA’s scope.
Each year in the U.S., hundreds of non-military public sector workers die from traumatic work-related injuries. In 2012, there were 453 deaths among these workers, including 256 involving local government employees. Ten of them worked in Alabama.