Identifying Electrical Power Line Hazards

People who work with or near power lines can be exposed to electrical hazards. In fact, overhead and buried power lines carry extremely high voltage and pose threats such as burns, falls from elevations, and fatal electrocution. The use of common equipment and tools that can come in contact with power lines increases a worker’s risk. Some of these objects include:

  • Aluminum paint rollers
  • Backhoes
  • Concrete pumpers
  • Cranes
  • Long-handled cement finishing floats
  • Metal building materials
  • Metal ladders
  • Raised dump truck beds
  • Scaffolds

To avoid hazards, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) offers these tips:

  • Contact utilities for buried power line locations
  • Look for overhead power lines and buried power line indicators
  • Unless you know otherwise, assume that overhead lines are energized
  • Post warning signs
  • Stay at least 10’ away from overhead power lines
  • De-energize and ground lines when working near them
  • Guard or insulate the lines if de-energizing is not an option
  • Use non-conductive wood or fiberglass ladders

For more information on recognizing hazards involved with energized power lines, visit OSHA’s website. OSHA also offers on-site consultations and training courses at no-cost to help businesses teach workers and employers how to recognize hazards and stay safe. 

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