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Carbon County contractors urged to take caution near electical lines



By Sun Advocate

Price city crews work on a power line near Castleview Hospital last summer. Local workers are reminded to avoid any contact with overhead or underground lines in order to prevent serious injury.

Each year, Utah Power is notified by police and fire departments of instances where someone is seriously hurt or even killed by making contact with high-voltage electrical wires.
In the process of clearing sites, pruning trees, moving equipment, digging trenches, roofing and other construction work, contractors face hazards of potential injury or even electrocution in the course of their regular work day.
“Many types of contractors and their crews work near power lines every day,” stated Utah Power public safety manager, Amy Eschete.
“But workers need to remember that all it takes is one wrong move- to be complacent for just one minute- to face life-altering burns, loss of limbs or instant death from contract with electrical power lines. In addition to equipment operations, ground workers must also use extreme caution, as they may be holding a crane boom cable or piece of hardware that becomes energized when equipment touches a line or a line comes down, thereby making themselves the electricity’s path to the ground.”
The Utah power company offers the following precautions to keep contractors safe.
•Look up. Always be aware of the location of any nearby overhead power lines to ensure not to accidentally lift long items, bump crane booms or raise truck beds into them.
Knowing where power lines are and keeping a safe distance from them are some of the most important steps workers can take to safeguard themselves and co-workers.
•Stay away and maintain a circle of safety. Occupational Safety and Health Administration regulations require that contractors and workers stay at least 10 feet away from overhead lines of 50,000 volts or less while working.
Generally, people should stay further away. This circle is meant to protect Utah residents from harm. This means that a person or their equipment and any tools must stay 10 feet or more away from power lines or the worker is breaking the rules and can be fined, or worse yet, injured or killed.
For lines over 50,000 volts, stay even further away. Overhead line safety acts enforced in most states stipulate that workers call their local electric utility company prior to doing work if the work may place them too close to lines.
•Call before digging. Hitting an underground power line can be just as dangerous as contacting an overhead line.
In addition to possible injuries, contractors can also incur costs associated with repairing any damaged lines.
It is advised that residents contact the power company at least 48 hours before excavating. Utah Power may be contacted at 888-221-7070. Information is also available at www.utahpower.net.
•Position equipment carefully. If any overhead power lines are at the work site, the locations of heavy equipment such as cranes should be planned jointly in advance with the power company and the contractor.
However, even with planning, heavy equipment and work operations may need to be located near high-voltage lines. In this case, use a safety watch.
Utah Power may need to be de-energized or temporarily move the lines in order for crews to complete their work.
•Use a safety watch. A designated watch person should be positioned near heavy equipment the entire time it is being operated near high-voltage lines. The designated person’s only duties should be observing the work and communicating with the operator to ensure the equipment never violates the safety circle.
If contact with a power line does occur, follow these important guidelines:
•If on the ground, stay there and stay away. Coming close to the energized equipment can only increase the danger as the surrounding ground may be energized as well.
•Call 911 if someone makes contact with electricity and needs immediate medical attention.
•Call Utah Power to have the lines de-energized.
•If contact with electricity is made while in a vehicle or while operating equipment, if possible move the equipment away from the lines without pulling overhead lines down or underground cables out, do so. Otherwise, stay put, and don’t move until the lines can be de-energized. This is the safest option until help arrives.
•If the vehicle must be left begind because of fire or some other life-threatening situation, jump far away from the vehicle with both feet together. Hop to safety with both feet touching. Never step down off the vehicle or touch the ground and the piece of equipment at the same time or electricution may occur.
•If a line has fallen on the ground, or on some other object or piece of equipment, always assume it is energized. Stay clear, keep others away and call the power company.
For other electrical safety tips, visit Utah Power’s website or contact the company directly.

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