Power Line Awareness on the Job Site

Power Line Awareness on the Job Site

Before you begin any construction process, you need to create a plan to protect your crew from any hazards on the job site. One of the most common hazards you'll encounter is live electrical lines, both overhead and underground. Knowing where power lines are and how to work around them safely is critical for protecting your workers from serious injuries and even death that could result from contact with one of these lines. 

How to Identify Power Lines on a Construction Site

The first step to creating a safety plan for working around power lines is identifying exactly where the lines are so you know how to avoid them. Use the following list as a guide to finding power lines on your construction site.

1. Survey the Site

Travel to your work site a few weeks ahead of time to complete a survey. Walk the site and keep your eyes trained up to identify any overhead power lines. Be sure to check for hidden lines that may be tucked into trees or behind buildings.

Create a map of these overhead lines and use that to develop a plan for operating around them safely. As you do, consider travel paths for equipment and where each machine needs to be to complete its task at a safe distance from the power lines.

2. Contact the Power Company

If there are any overhead power lines in your work area, contact the power company and see if you can arrange to have the lines deenergized during your work hours. This is the safest way to work around the lines. If they can't deenergize the lines, they may be able to install insulation that can add some extra protection in case of accidental contact.

The power company can also tell you the voltage each line carries so that you can be sure to follow OSHA guidelines for creating a safe buffer zone around them. The current recommendation per OSHA 1926.1408 is to maintain 20 feet of clearance around lines 350kV and under, with a greater distance for additional kV.

3. Call 811 for Underground Lines

If your construction project involves any excavation or digging, you need to identify any underground power lines on the work site by dialing 811, a toll-free national hotline that connects you with your regional office. They'll send utility workers out at no cost to mark the locations of any underground power lines so you can avoid them during your work.

Marking Power Lines on Construction Sites

The best way to make sure your workers are aware of any power lines on your work site is to ensure the lines and their safety buffer zones are clearly and visibly designated. Mark the perimeters with barriers, flags, alert signs, cones or painted lines — whatever you need to make sure they're visible.

Have your crew walk around the site as well, taking note of all the markers. If your job requires operators to work near the buffer zone, consider using perimeter alarms or a trained spotter whose only job is to help operators work safely around the lines.

Get the Equipment You Need to Work Safely

Once you've located any power lines and created a safety plan, it's time to get to work. Browse equipment online through The Cat® Rental Store and rent whatever you need from the people who do whatever it takes. Call 1-800-RENT-CAT to learn more about the products available through the Cat dealer network or to schedule a free rental quote.

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