There is no question that electricity powers the world around us. It provides energy for our lights, televisions, a wide range of tools, and even our cars to name a few! These are things that we commonly take for granted and may become blind to the dangers of electricity over time. With so many people and workers outdoors, not fully understanding the dangers of high voltage power lines or failing to notice them can become a fatal mistake.
Every year, fifty-five constructions workers are killed by electrocutions from overhead and underground power lines according to the Electronic Library of Construction Occupational Safety & Health (ELCOSH). This doesn’t include the hundreds of others that are injured across other industries or in the general public. They go further and state that the average claim cost for power line electrocutions is well over $550,000. It is crucial to be aware of power lines and the dangers associated with them in order to prevent serious injury (and cost) to yourself and others!
The greatest danger is when one comes in contact with an overhead power line, the ones that run through the neighborhoods as well as the jobsites that we work at. There is a common belief that power lines don’t carry enough power to hurt oneself or that they are insulated. However, power lines do carry enough energy to kill and are NOT insulated any more than for weather protection. If one touches the line, coated or not, there is a serious risk for death or serious injury. Also, a significant amount of injuries occur on the jobsite when heavy machinery (cranes, drilling rigs, backhoes, etc.) comes into contact with a power line. The most effective way to prevent this from happening is to inspect the job site for the power lines and surroundings before utilizing any machinery, and making sure all operators are at a safe working clearance and constantly aware of their surroundings.
As many people prepare for spring work this time of the year, it is also important to be aware of the common dangers within neighborhoods. The biggest thing before starting any work or anything is to “LOOK UP!” It is crucial to always be aware of power line locations when using long metal equipment such as tree trimmers and ladders. Always lower the equipment before moving it and try your best to carry them horizontally. Never go up on the roof when the weather is not stable, and always use caution when installing TV dishes, cleaning gutters, repairs, etc. If there is a need to trim trees near power lines, call a professional tree trimmer as they are trained in power line safety and will keep you out of risk. Also, before performing any digging it is advised to call the local underground utility locator as it can save you from serious harm and the service is free!
Another one of the big myths in regards to power line safety is during vehicle crashes when the vehicle comes in contact with the power lines. The common belief is to escape from the danger, however, it is important to STAY in the car and call for help. If one must escape from the car due to a fire or other risks, jump clear away from the vehicle and never come in contact with the ground while still being with in contact with the car as this is where electrocution can occur.
If you witness someone that is in danger after coming in contact with a power line, do not leave your vehicle to approach the accident until after the utility company has turned off the power once you call for help. It is important that you wait for trained assistance to arrive, or you could become an additional victim in need of rescue! Remember, before starting any outdoors work this spring, “LOOK UP!” to be aware, and not a victim.
Thank you for your time and attention. Let’s make it safe this Monday!
Demand Generation Specialist, Lift’n Buddy, a Southworth Company