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Date PostedNovember 8, 2013

Beware of Coming into Contact with Power lines on Construction Sites

One of the hazards that construction workers on building sites will often have to contend with is possibly live, overhead power lines.

One of the biggest mistakes workers can make is assuming that power lines aren’t live because this is how most accidents involving power lines occur. If unsure, always assume power lines are energized.

Truck drivers, heavy vehicle operators and other workers need to constantly being mindful of overhead power lines and also ensure that all machinery especially extending equipment is kept clear because contact with an energized line can prove fatal.

An incident which took place in Charlotte in The United States this week is an example of the danger involved when coming into contact with power lines. A construction worker lost his life when the lift he was operating came into contact with live power lines at a building site. The man was shocked by 12,000 volts of electricity which surged through his body, killing him instantly.

Read what happened according to an excerpt from an article on www.CharlotteObserver.com

1mUwvz.Em.138Firefighters say the contractor was in a lift bucket when he was shocked by a power line carrying 12,000 volts.

Photos from the scene showed yellow caution tape near apartments under construction and a blue-and-gray self-powered construction lift that appeared to be touching power lines.

Police have not released the worker’s name, or said what company employed him.

Firefighters said they were on scene for a high-angle rescue. Charlotte-Mecklenburg police assisted firefighters, but just before 3 p.m., paramedic crews reported that the construction worker had died.

The power was briefly interrupted at the nearby Town Center Plaza Harris Teeter supermarket and several stores in the same business park as crews tried unsuccessfully to save the man.

Read more here: http://www.charlotteobserver.com/2013/10/14/4388121/firefighters-trying-to-rescue.html#.Ul5dW1CVNjk#storylink=cpy

Operators of front loaders, lorry-mounted cranes/loaders, excavators, tipping trailers, bale trailers and tipper trucks need to be most cautious because they are the ones most likely to be at risk from live overhead power lines.

Some of the controls that can be used to avoid incidents arising from contact with over-head power lines include:

  • Operators of vehicles that could possibly touch over-head power lines should have a properly planned route prior to operation. This route should be drawn up to avoid over-head power lines.
  • Those in charge of the site should ensure that if high machines are going to frequently work near overhead lines, the electricity provider should be contacted about measures to avoid contact such as de-energising lines during construction or raising lines, whichever is reasonable practicable.
  • Operators should be aware of the full height of equipment and machinery when all parts are raised to their full extent. Compare these heights against the line safe clearances marked on the site map so that you know where the particular areas of risk are located and you can be extra cautious around these areas.

Most importantly employers need to ensure that workers are properly educated about all the hazards on the worksite as well as safe working procedures. That includes ensuring all workers have received general construction induction training/The White Card as well as more specific site safety training.


Peter Cutforth is a Director at Urban E-Learning, a global elearning and web strategy firm based in George St Brisbane. Peter's interests extend to training, safety and compliance, online marketing, and Mobile Apps.

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