Many of us travel under thousands of overhead power lines each day without a second thought. Such close encounters can be as basic as a service line going to a home or major lines carrying power across the country. There is a tremendous amount of danger if you, your vehicle or your piece of equipment come in contact with electricity. Power line safety is something that should always been on your mind.
If you work in an industry that uses dump trucks, cranes, excavators, logging equipment, scaffolding or even ladders, you are subject to OSHA standards for power transmission and distribution. Basically, you need to know to stay away from power lines. OSHA recommends staying 10 feet from power lines at all times.
Often we hear of dump trucks failing to lower their dump bodies in time, resulting in downed wires, or similar stories involving excavators and cranes. Unfortunately, we also occasionally hear of fatalities when individuals come in contact with power lines while working.
Safety pre-planning should always consider power lines. There are multiple steps that can be taken to ensure safety for your employees and customers:
- Use high-visibility cones or signage to mark power line crossings to show all drivers and operators the exact point where the lines cross the job site. This tip can work well for paving and road construction companies.
- If possible, have the utility company remove the lines before work starts. This tip may be most realistic for long term projects.
- If you can’t move the lines but need to work next to them, contact the utility company to temporarily shut off the power.
- If the power cannot be shut off, the utility company can attach insulated covers to the lines.
- Have a designated employee review the line crossings daily to ensure there haven’t been any changes since the start of the project. Utility poles can fall if the earth around them is disturbed. Scaffolding can also shift if not secured properly. And always remember the importance of ladder placement.
Pre-planning work around power lines is also critical during minor maintenance projects. If you have a maintenance department or hire a company to power wash, paint, or even change a light bulb, consider the placement of power line crossings and how they may affect the maintenance personnel’s operation. Additionally, don’t ever work on power lines unless you are certified to do so. Only specially trained and certified electrical specialists should touch the lines. Finally, if your vehicle comes in contact with a utility line, do not exit the vehicle. Call the utility company immediately and warn others to retreat.
I recently had a truck load of crushed stone delivered to my home. During the ordering process, the company representative asked, “Do you have any overhead lines near the dump site?” I was pleased to know the company was pre-planning their delivery. Pre-planning, annual training, knowing when to slow down and evaluating your surroundings can greatly reduce the chances of property damage and injuries from power sources.
Acadia is pleased to share this material with its customers. Please note, however, that nothing in this document should be construed as legal advice or the provision of professional consulting services. This material is for general informational purposes only, and while reasonable care has been utilized in compiling this information, no warranty or representation is made as to accuracy or completeness. Distribution of this information does not constitute an assumption by us of your obligations to provide a safe workplace. Maintaining a safe workplace in accordance with all laws is your responsibility. We make no representation or warranty that our activities or recommendations will place you in compliance with law, relieve you of potential liability or ensure your premises or operations are safe. We exercise no control over your premises or operations and have no responsibility or authority to implement loss prevention practices or procedures.