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Overhead Power Lines Toolbox Talk

Use this toolbox talk to educate your crews on overhead power lines and the extreme caution that should be used when working around them.

Overhead Power Lines Safety Talk

Overhead power lines are one of the many overhead hazards on a construction site. When working construction, there is always going to be the chance that there are going to be power lines running above you. In fact, more likely than not, there will be some somewhere on the property. Knowing the right regulations and safety precautions to take when working around power lines is important. It is advised that all employees are trained and educated on the dangers and precautions that should be taken when working around overhead power lines.

Overhead Power Lines Fatality Statistics

The CPWR has many records and research on different reasons for electrocution incidents on a job site. It can be a matter of life or death when it comes to being electrocuted, and between the years of 2008 and 2010, there were 255 workers killed due to it. A large number of those electrocution incidents were endured from contact with overhead power lines—47% of them, in fact.

There are many deaths that occurred from touching machinery or other objects that electrocuted the worker. The objects that were touched were in direct contact with a live power line, unnoticed by the workers. 58.2% of the deaths that are endured from non-electrical workers were from power line contact. 20.8% of power line electrocution deaths were results of full contact with a live power line.

All employees who work in construction, or even other fields, should be educated on electrical safety and the risks that come from electrocution. How to prevent electrocution and other electrical injuries should be know. A lot of times, these types of incidents can happen purely from not being fully informed about situations that can occur.

overhead power lines on a construction site.

How To Avoid Electrocution From Overhead Power Lines

The best way to avoid someone getting electrocuted from a power line is to not go near them whatsoever. However, depending on the task and jobsite, that may not always be possible. When you are working on a jobsite and not able to completely stay clear of power lines, here are some safety precautions that should be taken.

1. Inspect The Site

When you arrive at a job site, you should always thoroughly inspect all the areas of it and locate where the hazards are. That way, when briefing your crews on the job that is to be done, all employees know what the risks are and what to be careful of.

2. Educate All Employees

All employees should have proper training and education on this topic to ensure the safety of every employee. There are many times that the person doing the task is not the one injured, but the one standing close by.

3. Post Signage

Even though employees have been briefed about the risks and where they are located on the worksite. There should be proper signs put up in the area that is of risk to make sure everyone remembers and doesn’t accidentally come in contact with power lines.

4. De-Energize Power Lines (If Possible)

There are certain circumstances and locations that can de-energize the power lines for you while the work is being performed. This is going to help ensure the safety of your employees and help to eliminate the risk of someone being electrocuted.

5. Keep A Safe Distance

If the power lines that you are working near are not able to be de-energized, then a safe distance should always be kept between the lines and the worker. Depending on the voltage that is being put off from the power line will determine exactly how far away you need to be from it.

OSHA’s recommended clearance distances of power lines are as follows:

  • Voltage up to 50 should have a minimum clearance of 10 feet

  • Voltage over 50 to 200 should have a minimum clearance of 15 feet

  • Voltage over 200 to 350 should have a minimum clearance of 20 feet

  • Voltage over 350 to 500 should have a minimum clearance of 25 feet

  • Voltage over 500 to 750 should have a minimum clearance of 35 feet

  • Voltage over 750 to 1,000 should have a minimum clearance of 45 feet

6. Have a Spotter

In many situations on a construction site, it is the safest when you have a spotter with you, near power lines are no exception to that. Someone to help communicate and make sure there are not any barriers to hearing what is being discussed.

For example, one of the many reasons that there should always be a spotter is in the instance of a hazardous situation occurring. If you are unable to exit your equipment due to a risk of electrocution, the spotter can contact the person in charge to help execute the situation. 911 should always be contacted when there is a situation involving a power line.

Personal Protective Equipment For Electricity

It is far more often that you will find electricians dealing with being electrocuted more than you will a construction worker, but these instances still occur. There are a large number of records that can be shown resulting in many deaths due to electricity. It is important that anyone who is dealing with a situation that has the potential of electrocution, use proper PPE. Some of the items that should be worn are:

  • Safety glasses

  • Hard hats

  • face shield

  • Insulating gloves (rubber/leather protectors)

  • Insulating sleeves

  • Flame resistant clothing

  • Safety shoes

All of these PPE items are going to help keep you as safe as possible while on the job, but like all PPE, these items should be a last resort. This is not going to eliminate your risk 100%, so you should still use extreme caution when dealing with electricity. Having this protective gear though can definitely lower your risk of death and serious injuries.

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