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Controlling Electrical Hazards - Health & Safety

Overhead Lines - Preventing Electrical Hazards

If work is to be performed near overhead power lines, the lines must be de-energized and grounded by the owner or operator of the lines, or other protective measures must be provided before work is started. Protective measures (such as guarding or insulating the lines) must be designed to prevent employees from contacting the lines.

Unqualified employees and mechanical equipment must stay at least 10 feet (3.05 meters) away from overhead power lines. If the voltage is more than 50,000 volts, the clearance must be increased by 4 inches (10 centimeters) for each additional 10,000 volts.

When mechanical equipment is being operated near over-head lines, employees standing on the ground may not contact the equipment unless it is located so that the required clearance cannot be violated even at the maximum reach of the equipment.

Protective Equipment. Employees whose occupations require them to work directly with electricity must use the personal protective equipment required for the jobs they perform. This equipment may consist of rubber insulating gloves, hoods, sleeves, matting, blankets, line hose, and industrial protective helmets.

Tools. To maximize his or her own safety, an employee should always use tools that work properly. Tools must be inspected before use, and those found questionable, removed from service and properly tagged. Tools and other equipment should be regularly maintained. Inadequate maintenance can cause equipment to deteriorate, resulting in an unsafe condition.

Tools that are used by employees to handle energized conductors must be designed and constructed to withstand the voltages and stresses to which they are exposed.

Good Judgment. Perhaps the single most successful defence against electrical accidents is the continuous exercising of good judgment or common sense. All employees should be thoroughly familiar with the safety procedures for their particular jobs. When work is performed on electrical equipment, for example, some basic procedures are:

  1. Have the equipment de-energized.
  2. Ensure that the equipment remains de-energized by using some type of lockout and tag procedure.
  3. Use insulating protective equipment.
  4. Keep a safe distance from energized parts.
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