OSHA has included electrocutions as part of the Focus Four Hazards for construction because of the persistence and significance of this hazard. The Focus Four Hazards represent the causes of nearly 60% of all construction fatalities each year.
Electrocution caused by contact with energized power lines is a significant cause of fatalities in construction. Some examples of equipment that could contact power lines are cranes, pile drivers, guardrail drilling rigs, backhoes, excavators, front-end loaders, trenching machines, dump trucks and concrete pumping trucks.
Keep in mind on every construction project:
- Survey the site, identify overhead power lines and post DANGER signs and visible barriers at all potentially dangerous locations.
- Maintain at least 10 feet of clearance between equipment and power lines energized with less than 50,000 volts. For power lines carrying more energy, increase the distance by one foot for every 30,000 volts.
- If you must operate equipment close to the power line, use a spotter to identify when you’re nearing the minimum approach distance limit.
- Before beginning paving or any other road work activity, survey the area for any power lines that cross over the roadway, post DANGER signage notifying dump truck drivers to lower their beds before traveling under overhead power lines and bridges.
- If you must work close to a power line, consider calling the responsible utility to have the line protected during the operation.
- Before beginning ANY work activity in which you will penetrate the ground, call Indiana Underground Plant Protection Services (Indiana 811) at 811 or 800-382-5544 at least two full working days before you begin the work activity and have them locate the underground utilities. Do not begin work until this has been done.
- Once the locate service has marked the location of the buried utility, pothole/daylight to positively identify and expose the buried utility.
- Maintain a clearance of not less than two feet around the diameter of the buried utility with all mechanized equipment.
- Protect all underground utility markers from damage and replace them as needed.
- Situate jobsite unloading and storage areas in open areas away from overhead power lines.