Contact with overhead electricity powerlines can cause serious injury or even death.
If something gets too close to a powerline, or makes contact with it, electricity will be conducted to earth, travelling through anything in its path.
The sudden high temperatures that are generated when this happens can cause fire, explosion and severe burns.
Overhead powerlines can be easily missed if you don’t carry out proper checks on site. You must remember to look up!
Overhead powerlines are generally uninsulated. This means that electricity will flow through anything that makes contact with them. Electricity can also jump, or arc, through the air to a nearby object, and this varies depending on power and weather conditions, but can be a few meters.
Use of any plant or equipment that is tall enough or long enough to get close to a power line is a potential danger. In general, a safe distance of around 6 meters should be maintained between any plant and equipment and the powerlines.
If powerlines are an issue on site the power supply company should be contacted. They will provide you with information about the lines and how to work safely around them.
Ideally the powerlines should be isolated and made dead before starting work. However, this is not always possible, so sometimes it is necessary to put measures in place to ensure that plant and equipment is kept at a safe distance. This will probably include clear signage at ground level, and exclusion zones around the powerlines.
In any case, everyone on site should be given a thorough site induction to explain how to work safely near the powerlines. Supervisors and site managers will also monitor the work closely to ensure that rules are followed.
Always make sure you look up before operating plant, or doing any work at height, to check if there are any powerlines present. If there are, then you should stop work, and check with your supervisor.