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SAFETY TALKS: TAKE TIME



SAFETY TALKS: TAKE TIME

Here are a few “TAKE TIME” items that you can practice to help avoid accidents.

“TAKE TIME” to wear proper personnel protective equipment
“TAKE TIME” to review the work to be done
“TAKE TIME” to prepare for work so you do not rush to complete the job
“TAKE TIME” to determine the hazards of the work
“TAKE TIME” to eliminate the hazards or protect yourself from them
“TAKE TIME” to get help when the work requires more than one person
“TAKE TIME” to clear tripping hazards
“TAKE TIME” to identify conditions in your work place that can cause accidents
“TAKE TIME” to do normal house keeping
“TAKE TIME” to close files cabinet drawers
“TAKE TIME” to drive safely
“TAKE TIME” to wear seat belts before moving your vehicle.
“TAKE TIME” to know your job
“TAKE TIME” to fill up the necessary documents
“TAKE TIME” to tell others if they are working in an unsafe manner
“TAKE TIME” to report unsafe conditions and near misses
“TAKE TIME” to follow all HSE policies

“TAKE TIME” TO WORK SAFELY

SAFETY TALKS

SAFETY TALKS


What is a Safety Talk?


A safety talk is a hands-on way to remind workers that Safety & Health are important on the job.

Safety talks deal with specific problems on site.They do not replace formal training.

Through safety talks you can tell workers about health and safety requirements for the tools, equipment, materials, and procedures they use every day or for particular jobs.

Each safety talk in this book will take about five minutes to present.

Why give a Safety Talk?

In delivering safety talks, your objective is to help workers RECOGNIZE and CONTROL hazards on the project.

You may be a supervisor, a health and safety representative, the member of a joint health and safety committee, a safety officer, or someone with similar duties.

You give safety talks because you are responsible for advising workers about any existing or possible danger to their health and safety.

Safety talks demonstrate the commitment of employers and workers to health and safety on the job.

What makes a Safety Talk work?

  • Choose a talk suited to site and work conditions. Don’t give a talk on quick-cut saws when none are being used on the job.
  • Deliver the talk where it will be most appropriate. That could be the job office, out on the site, or near the tools and equipment you are talking about.
  • Introduce the subject clearly. Let workers know exactly what you are going to talk about and why it’s important to them.
  • Refer to the Safety Talk for information. But wherever possible use your own words.
  • Connect key points to things your crew is familiar with on the project.
  • Pinpoint hazards. Talk about what may happen. Use information from the Safety Talk to explain how to control or prevent these hazards.
  • Wherever possible, use real tools, equipment, material, and job site situations to demonstrate key points.
  • Ask for questions. Answer to the best of your knowledge. Get more information where necessary.
  • Ask workers to demonstrate what they have learned.
  • Keep a record of each talk delivered. Include date, topic, and names of attendees. Photocopy the Report Form at the back of this manual and use it to keep a record of each session.

Point to Remember

The information you present in a Safety Talk may be the only information workers receive about a particular tool, piece of equipment, type of material, or work procedure on the project.

In choosing and presenting your talk, do everything you can to help workers remember and act on the message you deliver.


Tool Box Talk - Foremost Topics

Tool  Box Talk - Foremost Topics

Safety Videos

Toolbox Talks cannot serve as a substitute for an employee's formal safety training, they do serve as a great way to address safety issues and concerns that may be plaguing your workplace right now.

The topics listed below are not meant to be comprehensive tool box discussions, instead they are provided as a reminder of areas you should be covering. 

 

COMMON SAFETY MISTAKES:  

Let's start with simple ways to keep employees safe; first and foremost is proper use of personal protective equipment (PPE). For example, no employees should wear hard hats backwards, use heavily scratched face shields, or use improper hearing protection. These are all simple fixes, but the fact that they have to be addressed may be a symptom of a much larger problem"a lack of safety culture.

ELECTRICAL SAFETY:  

To avoid any workers getting hurt via electric shock, it is very important for the worker to de-energize electrical circuits before doing any kind of work with electricity. All employees working with electricity should use an AC voltage tester / Multimeter to verify that the electrical power is off before they start working.  It is also imperative that employees working with electricity wear proper PPE and use rubber insulating gloves to further protect themselves. 

HAZARD COMMUNICATION: 

Hazard communication is meant to limit the amount of chemical-related illnesses and injuries that occur in a workplace by displaying specific information that help workers identify and evaluate the severity of the chemicals around them. To keep everyone safer, employers should have all containers labeled and have multiple copies of relevant Safety Data Sheet (SDS) strategically placed around the work area. Employers should also have first aid kits and emergency contact information readily available and easily accessible in case of an emergency. It is also imperative employees have the right PPE, including gloves and respirators. 

ERGONOMIC SAFETY:  

Injuries sustained from ergonomic stress, such as sprains, can be acute. However, repetitive stress injuries, like carpal tunnel syndrome, can also develop over time. In order to avoid injuries related to ergonomic stress, all workers should properly stretch to avoid injuries,  especially as the day goes on. Workers should also make attempts to keep pressure off their shoulders, keep their arms and neck relaxed and keep wrists unbent and relaxed as well. To further avoid injury, workers can invest in back braces to support their lumbar along with wrist rests for keyboards.

FIRE SAFETY:   

In order to prevent accidents, injuries, and potential death, all workspaces must be equipped with working smoke detectors and fire extinguishers. You should make sure all fire extinguishers are appropriate for your workplace and have not past their expiration date. It is important all workers know: 

  • Where the fire extinguishers are located
  • How to use fire extinguishers 
  • Emergency evacuation skills

SILICA PROTECTION:  

Inhaling silica is extraordinarily dangerous for workers as it can lead to fatal illnesses, like silicosis, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and has even been linked to lung cancer. Some of the best ways to prevent silicosis are dust suppression, putting up barriers, and PPE, such as face masks and respirators. Workers should use vacuums and water to reduce the amount of the dust that becomes airborne. Silicosis can also be prevented by not eating, drinking, or smoking near areas with silica dust. 

HOUSEKEEPING:  

Housekeeping may not seem important to safety, but having a clean, well-organized station greatly reduces needless worker injury. Workers should keep floors clear, clean, and dry at all times. Make sure all tripping hazards are removed to ensure further safety. Additionally, workspace should have separate, labeled containers for different kinds of waste like trash, oily rags, dry rags, and flammable objects. It is essential you keep clutter free from: 

  • Openings
  • Emergency exits
  • Roof edges
  • Excavations
  • Trenches 

HEAT STRESS:  

Heat stress occurs when the body can no longer cool itself down with sweat, which can be dangerous as heat stress can lead to heat stroke or heat exhaustion.  

             Heat Exhaustion Symptoms: 

  • Headache, dizziness, lightheartedness, fainting 
  • Weakness and moist skin 
  • Confusion
  • Nausea, vomiting

              Heat Stroke Symptoms: 

  • Dry, hot skin with no sweating 
  • Confusion or loss of consciousness 
  • Seizures/ convulsions

             To prevent against heat stress, you should: 

  • Know the signs of heat related illness 
  • Block out sun or other heat sources as much as possible
  • Use cooling units as much as possible in high heat
  • Hydrate yourself every 15 minutes to help cool your body down
  • Wear clothes and PPE appropriate to the weather 
  • Wear sunscreen 

TRAFFIC SAFETY:  

In an effort to save lives, workers should wear highly visible colors along with the proper PPE for their job. Workers should be very aware of their surroundings and should use traffic control devises like signs, warning signals, and barriers/ barricades while working. Workers are also encouraged to stay out of areas where walking is prohibited. 

WORKPLACE STRESS:  

Stress in the workplace is an ever-growing problem. Stress at work can lead to mental breakdowns and workers cutting corners to meet deadlines, which can have disastrous effects. To reduce workplace stress workers should: 

  • Ask for help
  • Try relaxation techniques
  • Take control of the situation
  • Talk to someone
  • Exercise regularly
  • Take care of yourself

Visit for Safety Videos:  https://www.youtube.com/channel/UChREXvbLQ3fPxOLKflPRj_g

Workplace Hand Hazards

Workplace Hand Hazards


Here's a handy checklist to help you identify and control hand hazards in your workplace

Two tools are essential for almost any job you can think of—your hands. It's natural, then, that preventing hand injuries should be high on your list of safety priorities.
Workers' hands are susceptible to many kinds of hazards, including:

Chemical hazards. The hands are the most likely point of contact for hazardous chemicals that can either damage the skin directly (causing irritation, sensitization, and other skin damage) or be absorbed (causing systemic effects from organ damage to cancer).

Chemical burns. A more severe injury than some types of chemical damage, chemical burns occur when the skin comes into contact with acids, caustics, and some other types of strong chemicals

Cuts and lacerations. Severe cuts and lacerations can result from working with machinery and equipment such as cutting and forming equipment (for example, table saws and presses);hand tools (for example, saws and grinders); metal straps or wires used for packaging; sharp or unfinished edges on equipment and even guards; and broken glass.

Abrasions. Severe abrasions, including scrapes and tearing of the skin, can occur when workers use, handle, or work in close proximity to tools and equipment such as sanders, grinders, conveyor belts, and rotating shafts; and rough surfaces (for example, those sometimes found on scrap metal and lumber). 


Puncture wounds. Workers are at risk of puncture wounds when they work with tools and equipment such as drills, nail guns, and even screwdrivers; slivers of metal or wood; and needles, scalpels, capillary tubes, and other medical or laboratory equipment.

Thermal burns. Burns caused by heat can result when workers are involved in hot work (for example, welding, cutting, and brazing operations); working on or near steam equipment (for example, boilers and steam piping); working on or near cooking equipment; and working on or near industrial ovens for baking, drying, or annealing.


Frostbite. Working outside in frigid conditions, or working with cryogenic materials, can freeze the skin and surrounding tissues, potentially causing permanent damage.

Controlling Hand Hazards

Fortunately, there are significant steps you can take to protect workers' hands. For example:

Choose the right gloves. Whether you're choosing chemical protective gloves or gloves to protect workers against abrasion, cuts, and punctures, choose carefully. Not all chemical protective gloves protect against all chemicals. Use the manufacturer's glove selection chart to check your choice. In some situations, work gloves may become entangled and create a greater hazard, so you may need to prohibit their use.

Guard hazards. "Hard guards" can help keep workers' hands away from some types of hazards.

Smooth out the rough spots. Protect against cuts and abrasions by smoothing the edges and surfaces of equipment whenever possible.

Make sure workers use tools. Brushes, push sticks, and other tools can put some distance between a worker's hands and certain hazards.

When Are Gloves a Bad Idea?

    Although gloves are generally viewed as contributing to worker safety, they are a bad idea when workers use machinery with spinning or rotating parts. Gloves are, essentially, an item of "loose clothing" that can be caught and pulled into the machinery, trapping the worker and causing far more serious injury than a splinter or scrape.

Case in Point: An employee was pushing wood through the jointer, holding it upright with his right hand, and pushing it with his left hand. The wood got stuck, so he pushed it back and forth. The glove he was wearing on his left hand caught on the jointer's blade, became entangled, and drew his hand into the blade. The tip of his left little finger was amputated.

As this case demonstrates, if you require or permit workers to wear gloves for some jobs, you must make sure that you clearly identify job tasks and machinery where gloves are forbidden because of the hazards they create.

NOTE: Workers may believe that latex or nitrile gloves are safer than leather or cotton work gloves because they will tear free if caught. Make sure they know this is not true.

 

Fall Prevention

Fall Prevention


Falls hurt—and worse, they can disable or kill. Fall injuries occur in every industry, but they can be prevented or reduced in severity by the worker who is alert.

Falls cost not only your company, but they also cost your workers and their families. They can cost workers pain, time spent at the doctor, enjoyment that you might have had on your time off, lost income when they are out of work, loss of mobility, and inability to do the tasks they usually do for their families around the house.

And, perhaps worst of all, people don’t always recover 100 percent from falls. Permanent pain spots and re-injury points can be created.

Slippery surfaces, poor lighting, obstacles, having vision obscured when carrying packages, and other factors can all cause falls. Make sure your workers are aware when hazards exist, report those which they can't correct themselves, and take steps to reduce their own likelihood of falling down on the job.

Here are some fall prevention tips you can share with employees at a safety meeting:
  • Keep alert. Walk through the workplace in an alert, balanced state, watching where you are going and ready to catch yourself quickly should you begin to slip or trip and fall.
  • Stay flexible. Those who are not limber usually have a higher center of gravity and are toppled more easily than the supple individual. Daily stretching helps.
  • Stay straight. The use of drugs, alcohol, even some prescribed or over-the-counter medications can alter your perception and throw off your sense of balance. Make it a point to find out any side effects of medicine you are taking.
  • Wear the right shoes. Be sure that your shoes give you proper support, are the right size, don’t have heels that will catch on the stair treads, and don’t have slippery soles.
  • Watch where you're going. Make sure you can see where you're going at all times so that you can see danger ahead. Never carry a load stacked so high that you can't see where you're going.

Minimizing the Impact of Falls

Not only should employees know how they can prevent falls, but they should also be prepared to reduce the impact of falls that do occur.

Here are some "safe falling" techniques to consider:
  • The head is a heavy body part. Don't tilt your head back as you walk up stairs, throwing off your balance. Look up with your eyes only. If you work at a height and find yourself falling, don't look down with your head either, because that will propel you forward.
  • Gripping a nearby railing may help. Use your thumb, along with the little finger and the ring finger to grip. The little and ring fingers actually have more gripping strength than the index and middle fingers.
  • When falling, defend the vital areas. It’s better to have soft tissue damage than severe breaks. The head is vulnerable to serious injury and must be protected first of all. Protect it by tucking it to either collarbone. Next comes the spine and back, then the joints such as knees, wrists, shoulders, elbows, and ankles.
  • Disperse the force. Spread the impact of the fall over as wide an area as possible. Don't break a fall with only your hands, for instance; use the insides of your forearms along with your hands.
  • Relax. Athletes and stunt riders learn this important lesson early. Know how to reduce the force of impact: Yell and exhale when falling.

Prevent Fall Incident

Falls are the leading cause of death in construction / erection and height work in recent years  there were many fatal / serious falls to a lower level which lead to maximum fatalities. These deaths are preventable.

As their is  many fall accident in recent year many companies and agency have conducted Fall Prevention Campaign/Training in their work area to raise awareness among workers and employees about common fall hazards in construction/erection and height work, to prevent falls from ladders, scaffolds and roofs etc..
  1. PLAN ahead to get the job done safely:- When working from heights, employers must plan projects to ensure that the job is done safely. Begin by deciding how the job will be done, what tasks will be involved, and what safety equipment may be needed to complete each task.
    When estimating the cost of a job, employers should include safety equipment, and plan to have all the necessary equipment and tools available at the construction site. For example, in a roofing job, think about all of the different fall hazards, such as holes or skylights and leading edges, then plan and select fall protection suitable to that work, such as personal fall arrest systems (PFAS).
  2. PROVIDE the right equipment:- Workers who are six feet or more above lower levels are at risk for serious injury or death if they should fall. To protect these workers, employers must provide fall protection and the right equipment for the job, including the right kinds of ladders, scaffolds, and safety gear.
    Use the right ladder or scaffold to get the job done safely. For roof work, if workers use personal fall arrest systems (PFAS), provide a harness for each worker who needs to tie off to the anchor. Make sure the PFAS fits, and regularly inspect it for safe use.
  3. TRAIN everyone to use the equipment safely:- Every worker should be trained on proper set-up and safe use of equipment they use on the job. Employers must train workers in recognizing hazards on the job. 
Determine Fall Incident
    
Working on a ladder, roof or scaffolding, it's important to plan ahead, assess the risk and use the right equipment. First, determine if working from a height is absolutely necessary or if there is another way to do the task safely.
  • Discuss the task with coworkers and determine what safety equipment is needed.
  • Make sure you are properly trained on how to use the equipment.
  • Scan the work area for potential hazards before starting the job.
  • Make sure you have level ground to set up the equipment.
  • If working outside, check the weather forecast; never work in inclement weather.
  • Use the correct tool for the job, and use it as intended.
  • Ensure stepladders have a locking device to hold the front and back open.
  • Always keep two hands and one foot, or two feet and one hand on the ladder.
  • Place the ladder on a solid surface and never lean it against an unstable surface.
  • A straight or extension ladder should be 1 foot away from the surface it rests on for every 4 feet of height and extend at least 3 feet over the top edge.
  • Securely fasten straight and extension ladders to an upper support.
  • Wear slip-resistant shoes and don't stand higher than the third rung from the top.
  • Don't lean or reach while on a ladder, and have someone support the bottom.
  • Never use old or damaged equipment; check thoroughly before use.
Many of peoples are treated in emergency rooms for fall-related injuries every year. A fall can end in death or disability in a split second, but with a few simple precautions, you'll be sure stay safe at at work.
 


 

Tool Box Meeting: Fall Causes

Tool Box Meeting 
 
Fall Causes

Injury due to falls is a major problem in construction today. Injury and death from falls is second only to traffic accidents taking many lives each year.

Falls are placed in two categories:

1. Falls on the same level.
2. Falls from different elevation.
 
  Falls on the same level such as slipping, tripping, and bumping into.
    1.  Falls caused by bumping into also result in serious injuries. We should be especially careful in hallways, warehouses, and places where blind corners exist. We sometimes get in too much of a hurry; maybe we are late in the morning or in a hurry to get home in the evening. In this rush we go around a corner too fast and collide with another person and we go spinning.
    2. Slipping could be due to oil or grease on the floor, a banana peel left over from lunch, a small piece of pipe, a soft drink bottle, or a welding rod stub, just to name a few. We can avoid these hazards in two ways; first, we must practice good housekeeping by keeping our work areas clean and orderly; second, we must be alert and watch our step. 
    3. Tripping can be caused by an irregular surface, lines or hoses across walkways, tools not in their proper place, poor lighting, and many others. The rules for avoiding tripping hazards are much the same as for slipping hazards; that is, practicing good housekeeping, watching your step, and in addition, keep your shoes (safety shoes) in good condition. Bad soles and heels have caused many falls.
Falls from different elevation
 
Falls from different elevation are usually more serious than falls on the same level. These too, can be caused by slipping and tripping but are also caused by many other factors such as misjudging a step or a grab bar on a piece of heavy equipment, over-reaching a ladder or scaffold, not tying a ladder off properly, faulty handrails on scaffolds, not using safety belts when we should; you can name many more.
 
 

Tool Box Talk (TBT)


Tool Box Talk (TBT)

Definition
Toolbox Talks

A toolbox talk is an informal safety meeting that is part of an organization's overall safety program. Toolbox meetings are generally conducted at the job site prior to the commencement of a job or work shift. A toolbox talk covers special topics on safety aspects related to the specific job. 
 
Meetings are normally short in duration and cover topics such as work related workplace hazards,& safe work practices. It is one of the very effective methods to refresh workers' knowledge, cover last minute safety checks, and exchange information with the experienced workers. Toolbox talks/meetings are sometimes referred to as tailgate meetings or safety briefings.

Purpose Of Toolbox Talk

Toolbox talks promote the awareness of safety issues in the forefront. A toolbox talk may have the following impacts:
  • Promotes safety awareness. Workers get actively involved in safety matters and reduce safety risks.
  • Introduces workers to new safety rules, equipment, preventive practices and motivates workers to follow standard operating procedures.
  • Provides vital information to the workers on accident causes types and preventive actions.
  • Emphasizes planning, preparation, supervision, and documentation.
  • Helps when reviewing new laws or industry standards, company policies and procedures.
  • Encourages workers to discuss their experiences that help to review safety procedures in future.

 Important features of a toolbox talks:

  • Should be scheduled at the beginning of the work shift.
  • Meeting should be done at the job site.
  • Duration should be approximately 10-15 minutes.
  • Discussion and review of the previous meetings to be done as reminder.
  • Discussion on the current task to be done.
  • Discussion on the safety issues including environment, hazards, use of personnel protective equipment, first aid and medical support and emergency procedures.
  • Worker participation is to be encouraged.
  • There may be review and recapitulation with quiz or test  

Procedure to conduct toolbox talk

1.    Schedule the meeting

Let the team know where and when the meeting is. At the start of the day works best with most workplaces.

2.    Set the scene for the meeting ­—  keep it real and be positive


Encourage everyone to join in and provide their own feedback, knowledge and experiences. Use simple language for everyone to understand to convey the key health and safety messages.

Toolbox meetings are an opportunity to provide positive feedback for safe actions, hard work and initiatives. It’s also important to avoid criticism and acknowledge everyone for their contributions. The meeting shouldn’t be a lecture, but a chance for engagement with the team.

Ensure that running and attending toolbox safety meetings is recognized as an important part of a person’s role. If the worker regards health and safety as an add-on, it will often be neglected.

3.    Follow an agenda

Follow an agenda to make sure you cover everything off:
  • Inform workers of changes to company procedures
  • Identify new hazards and review existing hazards
  • Develop/review hazard controls
  • Discuss/review accident and incident data
  • Discuss the work programme for the day/week ahead
  • Have company leaders talk about the business direction or a particular topic
  • Discuss any new equipment on site
  • Provide a short training session (Site Safe provides exclusive toolbox talk topics to its members for up-skilling and informing workers).
4.    Close the meeting

Thank the team for their time and let them get to work.

5.    Record meeting notes


Details of meetings should be recorded and kept on file. Record meeting dates, attendees and discussion items. Show follow-up items from previous hazards, accidents and incidents.

Responsibility
  1. Every person is the architect of their own fortune, good or bad, depends on the individual’s acceptance of personal responsibility.  At a young age, we are taught to assume responsibilities. ("Look before you cross the street . . . playing with matches is dangerous . . . be home before dark . . .") Even today, as adults, we still learn and decide whether to accept certain obligations. Young or old, we make individual choices.

  2. When responsibilities are shunned or rejected, someone must cope with the results. Police officers, judges, juvenile officers, and social workers respond to most of these rejections in our society. In safety, doctors, nurses, and funeral directors deal with the consequences of rejected responsibilities.

  3. There are laws, both federal and state, designed to spell out responsibilities for safety in the workplace, but actual performance of these obligations still belongs to you.

  4. By accepting and practicing safety responsibility, you insure your future both at home and on¬ the¬ job. You do the same for your fellow worker as well, because socially and morally you are responsible for preventing accidents to others as well.

  5.  If you see an unsafe act, do something about it ¬ point it out so others are aware and can avoid future mistakes.

  6. Point out to other employees when safety isn't being practiced. (IT MAY SAVE YOUR LIFE SOMEDAY!) After all, it's their responsibility to prevent an accident to you as well.

  7. Be willing to serve on a safety committee. Be more than just a member, be active and creative.

  8. Use good work habits don't be impulsive, and remember that hurry up can hurt!

  9. Develop the attitude that "If I do something wrong, I'm going to get hurt!" Then do the job the right way.

  10. If you are a supervisor ¬ help new employees learn that safety is the rule, not the exception. Teach them proper safety responsibility before you turn them loose. Practice leaving personal problems and emotional stress away from the job. Remember that accidents don't happen ¬ they are caused.

  11. Correct little mistakes before they grow into permanent bad habits.

  12. While attempts may be made to cloud or reject the responsibility for safety, when all is said and done, safety responsibility is up to you. You are the architects of your own fortune.

Electrical Safety : Overhead Power Lines

Electrical Safety : Overhead Power Lines 
 
Topic: Electrical Safety

Exposure to overhead power line hazards is not limited to employees of electrical utilities—workers in industries like construction and agriculture can also be exposed to them. If workers could violate the required clearances around the power lines, make sure they’re informed about the power lines and the work practices that are required to keep them safe.
Workers can come into contact with high-voltage lines—power lines carrying a sustained current greater than 600 volts—when they:
  • Use elevating equipment, like dump trucks, backhoes, or cranes.
  • Carry long conductive objects like irrigation piping or ladders.
  • Work at elevation, from ladders and scaffolds or in bucket trucks.
But employees who don’t work for electrical utilities may be less informed or equipped to deal with high-voltage hazards. Here are some questions all workers should ask before they begin working outdoors, if they could be exposed to overhead power line hazards.

What Are the Hazards?

When workers are near overhead power lines, they may be exposed to hazards that include:
  • Electric shock. Direct contact with live electrical current results in electric shock, which can kill or injure.
  • Electrocution. Electrocution occurs when a worker receives a powerful enough electric shock to kill.
  • Electrical burns. A person who comes into contact with electricity but is not electrocuted may suffer electrical burns on the skin or internally.
  • Arc flash. Electricity can arc through the air to reach a conductive object. Sometimes an arc produces an explosion—known as an arc flash or arc blast—powerful enough to melt metal and ignite clothing and flesh.

Where Are the Power Lines?

To stay safe, identify all overhead power lines in or near the work area before employees begin working. Make power line locations readily apparent by:
  • Using caution tape and signs to cordon off the area under power lines.
  • Forbidding storage of materials under power lines.
  • Installing flagged warning lines to mark horizontal and vertical power line clearance distances.

How Powerful Are the Power Lines?

The voltage the power lines carry will affect the distance that workers and their equipment must maintain from the lines. Contact the electric utility that owns the lines to confirm the operational voltage of an overhead power line.
Generally, there are three types of lines:
  • Transmission lines (which typically carry more than 69,000 volts of current)
  • Subtransmission lines (which carry from 34,500 volts to 69,000 volts of current)
  • Distribution lines (which carry less than 34,500 volts of current; 13,800-volt distribution lines are common).

What Safety Precautions Should I Take?

Workers should treat all overhead lines as if they are energized until the electric utility indicates otherwise, or an electrician verifies that the line is not energized and has been grounded. Precautions that can be taken against exposure to overhead power lines include:
  • Ask if the utility company can shut off the lines while employees are working near them. Always verify that this has been done; never assume.
  • If overhead lines cannot be shut down, ask the utility company if they can install insulation over the lines during the time employees will be working near them.

At-risk workers must know when live high-voltage power lines are present in their work area or jobsite, and they must know to keep any conductive object—including the boom on boom-type equipment, long conductive objects like piping, and their own bodies—at a safe distance from the lines. It’s important that they understand why they have to stay away, and how far away they have to stay. 

Why Do I Have to Observe Clearance Distances?

Most workers will readily understand that they must not come into direct contact with overhead lines, but they may find it harder to understand why they must keep anything conductive at a distance. They need to know that the insulation on high-voltage overhead lines is different.
Overhead lines are not insulated like building wiring. Wiring on household appliances is insulated to make it safe to touch, even when the appliance is in use. Wiring on overhead lines, however, is insulated only enough to protect it from weather conditions and incidental contact by trees. Because of this, electricity from power lines can arc— travel through the air—readily to make contact with a conductive object like a ladder, a tree saw, a dump truck bed, a crane boom, or a piece of irrigation piping.

Keeping people and objects a safe distance from overhead lines protects against the hazard of arcing.
This leads to our next question:

What is a “Safe Distance” from an Overhead Power Line?

If a power line has not been de-energized or insulated by the power company, it is important to keep workers and any conductive equipment far enough away to prevent electrical arcs. The required distance will depend on the voltage of the line.
  • For overhead power lines of 50,000 volts (50 kV) or less, stay at least 10 feet away.
  • For overhead power lines of more than 50,000 volts (50 kV) keep at least 35 feet away.
Don’t forget that the clearance distance doesn’t just apply to workers’ bodies. It is absolutely vital that anything conductive stay outside the clearance distance. That includes:
  • Workers’ bodies
  • Any equipment they are using
  • Any items they may be carrying
When you’re trying to keep workers safe, it can feel like there are too many questions you have to ask. Get the answers you need!

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