When jobs are not carefully planned, accidents are likely to happen. Accidents involving power lines can end up fatal. Follow the tips below to help you work safely near power lines.
Before You Begin Work
- Survey the site for overhead power lines.
Best Safety Practice
- Never get closer than 10 feet to an overhead power line!
- Consider ALL overhead power lines as energized until the electric utility indicates the line is not energized and has been grounded.
- In construction work, an overhead power line safety component should be part of your employer’s overall safety and health program and safety training.
- If overhead lines are present, call the utility company. The utility company may either be able to shut down the lines or install guards over the lines during the time you are working near them.
Working with Tools and Equipment
- Be sure equipment is at a safe distance from power lines of 10 feet. (Touching equipment that is touching a power line can be fatal.)
- Have a brief job site meeting to discuss the planned work as it relates to the power lines
- Discuss topics such as the use of long handled tools, and equipment (raised dump trucks, back hoes, etc.) that could come in contact with the lines.
- Consider the need for a designated person to monitor activities around the lines.
- Only use nonconductive ladders when working on or near overhead power lines.
- Employees shall not be permitted to approach or carry any object closer than 10 feet to a power line.
- The only exception is for trained and qualified employees using insulated tools designed for high voltage lines.
Avoiding Hazards in Digging/Drilling
- The most dangerous strikes can occur when a drill hits an electric or gas line.
- The operator can be electrocuted or cause an explosion.
- Step Potential can endanger the tracking person as his feet encounter an energized area where the boring device has encountered an electrical line. Equipment operator may also be injured.
- Touch Potential will likely injure or kill the equipment operator as the current travels from the point of contact, through the boring equipment back to the operator’s position.
- Plan and map your bore.
- With bore plan in hand, the competent person must mark the route and call 811. After the area has been located, expose the existing utilities following relevant OSHA requirements.
If Your Vehicle/Equipment Comes in Contact with a Power Line
- Don’t leave the vehicle, as long as you can stay inside and avoid touching metal on the vehicle.
- If you need to get out to summon help or because of fire, jump out without touching any wires or the equipment, keep your feet together and hop to safety.
- When equipment is working close to energized power line, the personnel standing on the ground should not come in contact with this equipment.