Safety Tips Electrical safety

Power line dangers

Exposure to electricity resulted in 156 deaths and 1,730 cases involving days away from work in the United States in 2012, according to the 2015 edition of the National Safety Council’s “Injury Facts.”

Working near overhead power lines can be particularly dangerous. OSHA recommends the following:

  • Watch for overhead power lines and power line indicators buried in the ground.
  • Contact utilities for the location of buried power lines if you are unsure.
  • Keep a minimum of 10 feet away from overhead power lines.
  • Always work under the assumption that overhead lines are energized.
  • De-energize and ground lines when working near them.
  • Use non-conductive wood or fiberglass ladders when working near power lines.

If your vehicle comes in contact with a power line, the Canadian Center for Occupational Health and Safety advises the following:

  • Stay in your vehicle.
  • Call 911 for help, as well as your local utility service.
  • Stay calm and wait for help. Do not exit your vehicle until emergency personnel or utility workers say it is safe to do so.
  • Do not try to rescue someone if you are not specifically trained to do so.

If you are forced to leave your vehicle – for example, if it is on fire – jump out of the vehicle as far as you can. Refrain from touching the vehicle and the ground at the same time, and jump with your feet, arms and legs as close to your body as possible. As you move away, keep your feet together and shuffle. If your feet are separated, you may be shocked or electrocuted, CCOHS notes. Continue shuffling for about 30 feet before you take a normal step.