Lack Of Awareness Around Power Lines Could Be Lethal

Jobsite SafetyOperating construction equipment around power lines could be lethal if you don’t use caution. Many construction workers are injured or killed each year due to lack of training around overhead power lines.

Burns are the most common shock related injury. The human body is an efficient conductor of electricity. When your body comes in contact with electricity, the electricity can flow through your body to a ground, or the earth, causing severe injury or death by electrocution. In most cases, unsafe equipment, a hazardous work environment or unsafe work practices contribute to the cause of the accidents. With a little safety instruction and common sense you can lower your risk of electrocution. Be sure to follow safe work practices and use insulation, guarding, grounding and electrical protective devices.

Here are some general guidelines to help keep you and your crew safe:

  • Always assume that any overhead power line is energized at lethal voltages.
  • Make sure all crew members are trained in CPR.
  • If you should ever fine yourself in a vehicle or machine that has come in contact with an overhead power line, DO NOT LEAVE THE VEHICLE! As long as you remain inside the vehicle and you avoid touching anything metal on the vehicle, you may avoid an electric shock. Contact the local electric company for help.
  • If you must exit a machine due to fire or other safety reasons, try to jump completely clear of the machine, making sure that you don’t touch the equipment and ground at the same time. Land with both feet together and shuffle away in small steps to minimize the path of electric current and avoid electrical shock.
  • As a general guideline, stay at least 10 feet away from any overhead power lines and always survey the area before starting work.
  • When mechanical equipment is being operated near overhead power lines, employees standing on the ground may not contact the equipment unless it is located so that the required clearance cannot be violated even at the maximum reach of the equipment.
  • If working in damp locations, inspect electrical equipment to ensure that they are in good condition and free of defects. Use ground-fault circuit interrupters.
  • If equipment must be moved to an area with overhead power lines, appoint a competant worker whose sole responsibility is to observe the clearance between the machine and the overhead lines.

High voltage power lines and transformers are unforgiving and lethal. Always be aware of your surroundings and take precautions when using ladders, cranes, excavators, backhoes, dump trucks and other construction equipment. Be sure to always contact your local electric distribution company to check for underground wires. Following these safety tips can greatly reduce your risk of electric shock.