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Power lines are a serious and potentially fatal hazard to workers when safety precautions are not followed. Electrocution remains a major cause of deaths in the landscaping and construction industries. Cranes, backhoes, dump trucks, drill rigs and aerial lifts are common types of equipment involved in contacts with overhead power lines. However, low-tech equipment like ladders, tools and tool extensions, and scaffolds are frequently involved.
What should employers do?
- Initial worksite surveys should include locating and identifying all overhead power lines. The heights of the wires and distance from the worksite should be noted on site diagrams to make sure workers and supervisors are aware.
- If work must be done near energized lines, contact the local utility company for assistance. The utility company may need to shut down the lines while you are working near them. If overhead lines cannot be shut down, the utility company can install insulation over the lines during the time you will be working near them.
- Ensure all workers keep conductive materials 10 feet away from unguarded, energized lines up to 50 kilovolts. For every 10 kV over 50, increase distance by an additional 4 inches of clearance.
- Workers should not operate equipment around overhead power lines unless authorized and trained to do so. Use a spotter.
- Do not allow use of metal ladders in dangerous situations.
- Train all workers in emergency communication and proper techniques for providing aid to someone after an electrical accident.
At Gulfshore Insurance, we specialize in insurance and risk management for the landscape industry. We work with hundreds of landscapers throughout Florida and we are happy to assist you with training materials, safety programs, and insurance for your business.
Nick Wichmanowski a Client Advisor and Partner at Gulfshore Insurance who specializes in construction, landscaping, and the oil and petroleum industries. Comments and questions are welcome at firstname.lastname@example.org
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