Outdoor workplace safety
Safety on the job goes far beyond hard hats and safety boots. One of the leading causes of fatalities and serious injuries on the job is electrocution. Taking a short cut and compromising safety to meet a deadline is just asking for trouble.
Roofers, renovators, painters, siding installers, demolition and construction crews, and many more trades involved in residential and commercial projects are constantly at risk.
Exposure to electrical hazards on a work site, particularly in the construction industry where large aerial and/or digging equipment is commonly used, can pose serious risks to those whose work outdoors. Power lines often run overhead as well as underground, and it is important that workers understand the dangers that surround them on a job site, to avoid injury to themselves or their coworkers.
You don't have to touch a power line to receive a deadly shock. Electricity can jump or "arc" to you or your tools if you get too close.
Stay at least three metres (10 feet) back from power lines.
- Cover or guard any exposed electrical components or wires, and make sure employees are aware of any hazards.
- Never work on live or energized equipment, and always follow proper lock and tag out procedures before performing any electrical work. Test the power after locking and tagging out to ensure there is no power being fed to what you are working on.
- Never cover up, obscure or bury utility overhead or underground wires without the authorization of Alectra Utilities.
- Keep electrical panels, fuse boxes and circuit breakers locked and secure to prevent unauthorized personnel from accessing them.
- Do not operate electrical equipment in wet conditions.
- Avoid exposing electrical tools and equipment to a damp or wet environment unless they are protected.
- Ensure components in and around all electrical equipment are in good working condition.
- Inspect all cords for damaged insulation or missing ground prongs. If they are damaged, frayed or worn, discard them to remove them from use.
- Look up and look out before you lift your load to avoid making contact with overhead power lines when using aerial trucks.
- Dump truck drivers and construction workers must ensure they are aware of the location and voltage of overhead power lines where they are working. Most overhead power lines are not insulated. Metal objects that make contact with these lines will become energized to the same voltage as the line. Dump trucks are included. Tires can act as an insulator until they blow. At this time, the vehicle and the ground around it will become energized. If tires do not blow, drivers should check them for damage.
- The Electrical Safety Authority (ESA) recommends that drivers and workers maintain a distance of more than 3 metres (10 feet) from power lines on poles. The Occupational Health & Safety Act & Regulations mandate the safe limits of approach to overhead power lines based on voltage ratings.
- Drivers and workers must be made aware of overhead power line hazards and know what safe limits of approach to adhere to. Caution should be taken not only when lifting the dump truck box – but also when lowering it to avoid unexpected contact with overhead power lines.
- Use either ground fault circuit interrupters (GFCIs) or assured equipment grounding conductor programs to protect your employees from the risk of electrocution or shock.
What to do if you are operating equipment that contacts a power line:
- In the event that your vehicle comes in contact with a power line, a driver can be electrocuted if he/she attempts to leave the truck. Warn others to stay back! If someone were to touch the side of the dump truck, they would be electrocuted. In addition, the ground around an energized vehicle could carry electrical current for up to 35 feet.
- The equipment and you may now be at the same electrical potential as the power line, and there may be a current flowing through the ground. Don't touch anything outside the equipment. You could create another path to the ground for the electrical current to travel.
- Another wrong move may result in a serious injury or fatality.
- Warn others to stay at least 10 metres away.
- Have someone contact Alectra Utilities to get help immediately!
- In the event of a downed power line, call 9-1-1 or Alectra Utilities to ensure that power on that line is disconnected. Further information is available on the Electrical Safety Authority website.