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August 31, 2016

Construction Site Power Line Safety

138KV Overehead power lines 15 ft clearance
Power lines on construction sites pose a serious hazard to workers. A recent article in Canadian Occupational Safety says that in Ontario, 70 percent of power-line contacts in the last 10 years have occurred on construction sites.

They most commonly affect workers operating excavating equipment, but an increasing number of incidents involve dump trucks. Often dump boxes are left up and contact wires, or are raised into overhead lines.

Construction workers on ladders and scaffolds also are at risk of electrical line contact, but direct contact is not needed to create a safety hazard. Simply being close to a high energy line can attract electricity, causing an arc from the line to the object - whether it's a ladder, tool - or a person. When live lines come down, electrical current may flow into the ground creating a pool of electricity in the area. This pool will energize anything it touches, which is why workers should stay inside equipment that has come in contact with a power line.

Here are four important electrical safety tips for construction workers:

  • Stay inside the cab - If your truck contacts a wire, the ground around it also becomes energized and can cause severe or fatal injury. Don't step out of the vehicle to avoid electrocution
  • Keep a safe distance - Electricity can arc from a power line to any object that gets close - including people
  • Tires may explode - Electricity can heat wheel rims, raising the temperature of the air inside the tire and causing the tire to explode (This danger can last up to a full day after power-line contact)
  • Stay alert all day - Incidents often happen late in the day when workers are tired or rushing to finish a job
Warning signs that identify overhead lines can help equipment operators avoid potentially deadly contact.

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