Power Line Safety

Why are Power Lines so deadly? Contact with Power Lines is the leading cause of fatal electrical incidents while on the job. Approximately 133 workers are killed from contact with power lines, and of this total, half of the workers killed are between the ages of 25 and 35. This information on power line safety will help you protect employees and contractors.

Preplanning for Work around Power Lines You should always walk down and survey the work site before beginning the work to identify all overhead power lines. Take time to consider equipment travel paths and movement. All overhead power lines shall be considered energized until verified otherwise. Before you begin any work, contact the owner of the lines to determine the voltage of the lines and re-quest the lines be de-energized and grounded. Never accept working near an energized line unless it’s not feasible to de-energize it; always follow the OSHA mini-mum working clearance.

Power Line Clearances Operate equipment at a slower-than-normal rate in the vicinity of power lines. Exercise caution near long spans of overhead power lines, since wind can cause the power lines to sway laterally and reduce the clearance between vehicles and the power line. Know the power line clearance requirements (Refer to the OSHA standards and NFPA 70E, Standard for Electrical Safety in the Workplace, for safe approach distances) -For lines 50kV or less, the operator must keep all equipment parts and per-sonnel at least 10 feet away. – For lines above 50kV, this distance increases by 4 inches for each kV over 50kV. Deter-mine your safe working clearance: which is the closest you can place equipment or personnel without moving closer than the required separation distances.

How can worker deaths be prevented? When working around overhead electric lines or with electrical equipment, use non-conductive ladders and tools. Never attempt to carry materials in a vertical position. If using ladders, they should be lowered and turned horizontally when transported from one location to another and collapsed before low-ering from a vertical position. Unload materials from trucks and flatbeds away from overhead lines.

Fatal Facts: An electrician was removing metal fish tape from a hole at the base of a metal light pole. The fish tape became energized, electrocuting him. As a result of an inspection, OSHA issued a citation for three serious violations of the agency’s construction standards. Had requirements for de-energizing energy sources been followed, the electrocution might have been prevented. Ensure all circuits are de-energized before beginning work (29 CFR 1926.416(a)(3)). Controls to be deactivated during the course of work on energized or de-energized equipment or circuits must be tagged (29 CFR 1926.417(a)). Employees must be instructed to recognize and avoid unsafe conditions associated with their work (29 CFR 1926.21(b)(2)).

Disclaimer: The information and suggestions contained in these safety talks are believed to be reliable. However, the authors of the topics and the owners of this web site accept no legal responsibility for the correctness, sufficiency, or completeness of such information or suggestions contained within these topics. These guidelines do not supercede local, state, or federal regulations and must not be construed as a substitute for, or legal interpretation of, any OSHA regulations.