Assume that all overhead wires are energized at lethal voltages. Never assume that a wire is safe to touch even if it is down or appears to be insulated. Most power lines are NOT insulated. A power line touching a tree or metal pole can conduct electricity and shock you. Never touch a fallen overhead power line. Call the electric utility company to report fallen electrical lines.
Stay at least 10 feet away from overhead wires for all activities. Cranes are required to stay at least 20 feet back from the lines. If working at heights or handling long objects, survey the area before starting work for the presence of overhead wires.
If an overhead wire falls across your vehicle while you are driving, stay inside the vehicle and continue to drive away from the line. If the engine stalls, do not leave your vehicle. Warn people not to touch the vehicle or the wire. Call or ask someone to call the local electric utility company and emergency services.
Never operate electrical equipment while you are standing in water. Never repair electrical cords or equipment unless qualified and authorized. Don’t allow cords or tools to fall on wet ground or in the water. If working in damp locations, inspect electric cords and equipment to ensure that they are in good condition and free of defects, and use a ground-fault circuit interrupter (GFCI). Have a qualified electrician inspect electrical equipment that has gotten wet before energizing it. Always use caution when working near electricity.
On the jobsite, remember to inspect your work area each day to identify any hazards or changes in condition, such as standing water. Look for signs that indicate the hazards present or give instructions as to how far away you should be. Make sure your Activity Hazard Analysis (AHA) identifies power lines, buried utility and temporary power sources and gives corrective actions to minimize the danger.
When handling material, identify your clearances and determine if a different method should be used. You may need a forklift, shorter rigging, or you may need to disassemble the item or move it in pieces. Don’t make do with what’s onsite, choose the best equipment for the job. A spotter may be required. If so, position that person in an elevated area where they can accurately assess the gap or clearance. The operator should be prepared to stop immediately if notified by the spotter. Use caution when working in the rain. A wet tag line can conduct electricity.
What can be done to make the power lines safer? A power company can relocate the lines, insulate the lines or flag them to make them more visible. A marker can be strung below the line to indicate the safe distance needed for crossing under the line. Lines can also be de-energized during the work. All of these items require preplanning, so early recognition and planning is essential.
Be sure to speak up when you see something that doesn’t look right. Don’t assume your supervisor already knows about it. Ask for help from your supervisor or the safety department if you are not sure. Safety is too important to guess. You are our greatest assets at Delta. Do not put yourself in a situation that could injure or kill you. It takes less than 1 amp to stop a person’s heart. Keep yourself safe for your family. Take these tips and apply them at home. Protect children from outlets, get rid of faulty cords or tools. Be careful picking fruit using metal poles or ladders. Talk to you family about electrical safety.