Aerial lifts make it possible for workers to complete high off the ground jobs thanks to its flexibility, but it also represents serious risk factors, especially when they work near power lines.
Power and installation exist wherever people work. While this means that electricity-related work is at the core of a business, it also means workers are injured in electrocution accidents, and the majority are construction and utility workers. In fact, electrical hazards cause more than 4000 injuries and 300 deaths each year among the US workforce. Electrocutions are one of the leading causes of workplace deaths. They occur when workers or the boom make contact or gets too close with overhead power lines.
Other reasons causing electrocutions to involve:
● Unawareness of the cable voltage
● Working too close with the power lines
● Boom moving in the wrong direction
● Not following safety precautions
● Untrained lift operators
The biggest risk involved in power lines is workers making contact with the live cable. So, the best way to avoid getting an electric shock is to turn off the power supply. However, if you have to work with live wires, here’s what you can do:
● Use insulated lifts that are designed to operate near electrical hazards.
● Use power line proximity indicators to maintain a safe distance.
● Shield the cables.
● Making controlled aerial lift movements to avoid getting too near to the cables.
Another major risk is- electricity can transfer through the air (especially when it is moist), and when this happens, it poses non-contact shocks to the operators. So, to protect yourself from getting shocked, you should do the following:
● Work under extra supervision when the work involves live power cables.
● Use minimum safe approach distance (MSAD).
● Have an emergency preparedness and response plan.
How to Work Safely In the Job Site
Make sure you are aware of all live electrical devices and equipment in the area. This is especially true when working near overhead cables as they are rarely insulated.
Identify the right MSAD and implement these safety measures in the setup and while working on the aerial lift.
Supervisors should do a daily visual inspection of the job site. They should ensure that the warning signs are in the right place to point out any risks. They should also ensure that the operators have aerial lift training so that they can operate the lift correctly when around power lines.
When operating aerial lifts, make sure the devices and tools that are susceptible to conduct electricity don’t contact power lines or enter into the MSAD zone.
Moving lifts around overhead cables and power lines can increase the risk of an accident. A “ground person” should ensure that clearance between the cables and lift does not break through the MSAD.
Never extend the lift above live cables and power lines.
There are work conditions when it is impossible to maintain the correct MSAD, and when this happens, you should stop working. You need to tell the “Production Safety Consultant.”
The utility companies and construction sites may have to de-energize or remove the cables before workers get back to do the task. However, if that is not possible, insulate the cables.
Wear Proper Protective Equipment
When operators work on or near power lines, they should use personal protective equipment, which includes:
● Voltage-rated shoes
● Insulated hard hat and tools
● Rubber gloves and sleeves
Follow a 30 And 50-Foot Rules
Not maintaining a safe distance from power lines when working on lifts is a risky business. Extra safety precautions are required in this case:
Maintain 30 feet distance from cables on wooden poles and a fully extended boom and 50 feet distance from an electrical pylon and a fully extended boom.
Aerial lifts are meant to provide safe working at heights – but they are only safe if you are properly using them. Make sure you know the risks so that you can follow safety procedures with your trained skills and expertise!
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