Overhead Powerline Safety

Between 2011 and 2018, 38% of all electrically related workplace fatalities were caused by overhead power lines.

In the majority of these cases, fatalities occurred in occupations with little to no electrical safety training. So when you’re on a job site, remember to always look up, always – it can save your life.

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Between 2011 and 2018, 38% of all electrically related workplace fatalities were caused by overhead power lines. In the majority of these cases, fatalities occurred in occupations with little to no electrical safety training. So when you’re on a job site, remember to always look up, always – it can save your life.

If a vehicle or object contacts a power line or utility pole:

  • Consider all lines to be live and dangerous
  • Tell others not to approach the vehicle, downed lines, or anything that may be in contact with downed lines
  • Warn others to stay at least 35 feet away
  • Stay in place or inside your vehicle unless you see fire or smoke
  • Call 911

In the event of fire or smoke:

  • Do not touch the ground and vehicle at the same time
  • Jump from the vehicle with your feet together
  • Shuffle away and avoid lifting your feet

In 2016, 53% of all fatal electrical injuries occurred in the Construction industry. The Construction industry remained the leading source of fatal electrical injuries with 82, about three times the contribution of the second-highest source, Professional and Business Services. Learn how to work safely near power lines with these simple steps:

  1. Locate all overhead power lines
  2. Keep self and equipment 10 feet away from all overhead power lines
  3. Do not touch anything that is in contact with the power line
  4. Beware of fencing near power lines
  5. Carry ladders and other equipment horizontally
  6. Lower equipment apparatus before driving
  7. Never spray water near power lines
  8. Stay at least 35 feet away from fallen power lines

Contact with overhead power lines is the leading cause of electrical fatalities for agricultural workers. Of the 1,001 reported power line contact incidents from 2003-2009, nearly 70% resulted in death. Luckily, these fatalities can be prevented by following these simple steps while on the job.

  1. Locate all overhead power lines
  2. Keep self and equipment 10 feet away from all overhead power lines
  3. Do not touch anything that is in contact with the power line
  4. Beware of fencing near power lines
  5. Carry ladders and other equipment horizontally
  6. Lower equipment apparatus before driving
  7. Never spray near power lines with irrigation systems
  8. Stay at least 35 feet away from fallen power lines

Agricultural workers are essential to many aspects of our everyday lives from the food we eat to the clothes we wear. The conveniences they provide come at a cost, as they face many hazards in their workplace. Existing training already addresses the risks of heat exhaustion, dehydration, and pesticides but the industry has been less proactive about providing training regarding overhead power lines. Electricity is uniquely unforgiving when proper procedures are not followed, and it is essential that workers are informed and reminded of safe practices around power lines. This training will demonstrate the very immediate need for such training as well as the appropriate actions necessary to avoid injury or death caused by overhead power lines on the

ESFI’s train-the-trainer program can help teach managers how to educate their employees at the work-site about the dangers of overhead power lines.

This training will cover the following:

  • Why this training is important
  • Examples of hazardous situations associated with overhead power lines
  • Providing effective tips to prevent harm caused by overhead power lines
  • Appropriate actions following an incident involving overhead power lines
  • Avoiding complacency on the agricultural worksite

This paper, titled “Occupations Most At-Risk in Fatal Overhead Power Line Incidents: Using OSHA Data to Get a Better Understanding” examined all electrical cases investigated by OSHA from 2000-2011 to determine the industries and occupations that often sustain injuries from overhead power line incidents as well as the scenarios associated with these events.

ESFI President Brett Brenner and Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) Senior Member James C. Cawley, P.E., co-presented the paper at the 2015 IEEE IAS Electrical Safety Workshop taking place January 26-30 in Louisville, KY.

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