On-Site Magazine

Stay safe around power lines

By Adam Freill   

Construction Health & Safety

With the construction sector generating 60 per cent of powerline contacts, Ontario’s ESA is putting a focus on powerline safety.

(Image courtesy of the Electrical Safety Authority)

As Powerline Safety Week approaches, Ontario’s Electrical Safety Authority (ESA) is on a mission to educate construction and trade workers in the province that staying clear of power lines is paramount to staying safe.

Over the past decade, the ESA has recorded nearly 1,400 incidents involving overhead power lines. Sixty per cent occurred in the construction sector, with eight fatalities being registered.

A recent ESA survey of trade workers raised some alarming red flags. Only 18 per cent correctly identified three metres as the safe distance to stay back from overhead power lines, and only a quarter knew to stay 10 metres away from a downed power line.

The haulage industry, aerial lifts and excavators are the biggest contributors to the incident figures, with powerline contacts peaking from March through October. Ahead of Powerline Safety Week, which runs from May 13 to 19, the ESA is offering the following tips for construction workers:



  1. LOOK OUT! Locate all power lines on site before starting any work.


  1. USE A SIGNALLER. You must have a competent, dedicated signaler to support drivers of dump trucks and other high-reach vehicles. This ensures equipment doesn’t come within three metres of overhead power lines.


  1. ASSUMED DOWNED POWER LINES ARE LIVE AND KEEP 10 METRES BACK. If wires fall on a truck or the ground, always assume they are still energized. Stay in the vehicle, call 911 and keep everyone back at least 10 metres (the length of a school bus).


  1. CALL BEFORE YOU DIG. Before you start any excavation work, contact Ontario One Call to identify all utility-owned underground infrastructure.


  1. ORANGE COVER-UPS ON POWER LINES ARE FOR IDENTIFICATION ONLY. Seventy per cent of construction workers believe or are unsure if orange cover-ups provide protection. However, this is untrue. Always keep at least three metres back from overhead power lines, even if they have an orange cover-up.


For more powerline safety tips, visit www.esasafe.com/construction.




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