Look up and live 2020-12-18T13:34:04+00:00

Look up and live—power line safety

Contacting an overhead power line could cost you your life.

Overhead power lines are not insulated. So if you touch one with your body, your equipment, or your tools, you or someone you work with could die. Everyone who works near power lines is at risk, whether you operate heavy equipment or use ladders and handheld tools. It’s up to you to work safely to protect yourself, your crew, and the public.

Look up and live. Look out for power lines:

  • Survey your job site every day to locate overhead power lines, poles, guy wires, and pad-mounted equipment, and point them out to coworkers.
  • Watch for overhead power lines hidden by trees or buildings. If you suspect hidden power lines, talk to the utility company, inspectors, and experienced colleagues about your concerns. Call 811 to request underground power lines be marked, to request voltage information, or to identify the operating utility.
  • Watch for equipment on the ground that may be hidden by bushes or small trees.
  • Check all of the above daily as conditions may change.

Alert others about lines at your pre-job briefing.

Make sure everyone at the job site knows about nearby overhead and underground utilities and where they are located. Whether they are operating heavy equipment, using handheld tools, or climbing ladders, all workers on site must be aware of power lines.

Assume all power lines are energized and potentially dangerous, including the service drop wires that run from utility poles to buildings.

MIOSHA safety standards require that anyone working near power lines stay at least 10 feet away, including any tools or equipment you are using. Metal ladders, cranes and some other specialized equipment require 20 feet of clearance. Higher voltages also may require greater distances. Contact MIOSHA for specific requirements.

Construction workers examining site

Before any work begins, always complete a pre-job safety briefing to ensure safety concerns are identified and mitigated. This includes examining the work site carefully for overhead utilities.

Review your emergency plan before work begins.

Make sure everyone knows what to do in case of power line contact.

MIOSHA safety standards require that anyone working near power lines stay at least 10 feet away, including any tools or equipment you are using. Metal ladders, cranes and some other specialized equipment require 20 feet of clearance.

Greater voltages require greater distance.

Consult Consumers Energy at 1-800-477-5050 to verify voltages and contact MIOSHA for specific rules before work begins.

Clearly mark boundaries.

Mark a safety boundary with tape, signs, or barricades to keep workers and equipment the required distance away.

Keep in mind that tools, equipment and materials can shift due to wind or unexpected events.
Maintain the minimum required distance plus a buffer zone.

Worker marking boundary

If you are in doubt about line voltages, clearance requirements, or how to work safely near power lines, contact Consumers Energy at 1-800-477-5050. If you are unsure what utility the wires belong to, call 811.

Follow MIOSHA Guidelines
MIOSHA safety standards require that anyone working near power lines stay at least 10 feet away, including any tools or equipment you are using. Metal ladders, cranes and some other specialized equipment require 20 feet. Higher voltages also may require greater distances of clearance. Contact MIOSHA for specific requirements.

If a job requires you to position your ladder or scaffold within the minimum safety distance, notify Consumers Energy so other arrangements can be made (such as de-energizing or relocating the line).

Use GFCIs to reduce power tool shock risk.
A faulty power tool can electrify the entire scaffold; ground fault circuit interrupters (GFCIs) reduce this risk.

scaffolds

laddersRemember to follow the MIOSHA guidelines for safe distances at all times.

For equipment operators, visibility is limited.
When you operate hoisting equipment, it is often hard to judge the distance from your equipment to power lines overhead. Certain weather conditions and bright or dim lighting can make it even harder to see.

A spotter helps you stay clear of overhead lines.
Someone on the ground has a much better view of the power lines near you. You should work with a dedicated spotter on the ground whose only job is to watch your equipment and make sure you stay a safe distance from overhead lines and other hazards.

Crane and derrick operators:
Maintain continuous contact with a dedicated spotter to comply with electric line clearance requirements.

Spotters: Lives depend on you. Make spotting and clear communication with the equipment operator your top priorities.

A dedicated spotter on the ground should be stationed to watch that your equipment stays away from power lines.

When you guide a load, you are at risk of electric shock.
If the crane or other piece of equipment you are guiding hits an overhead power line, electricity can travel down the tag line that you are holding and through you. In the event of power line contact, workers on the ground are in the greatest danger of shock.

Don’t try to guide a load and spot at the same time.
Assign a spotter whose only job is to make sure the equipment stays clear of power lines. Spotting effectively needs someone’s full attention.

Worker guiding load

When you guide a load, you are at risk of injury or death. Always engage a spotter who can alert you if equipment gets too close to power lines.

Keep vehicles and loads clear of lines.
Check for power lines before raising any truck bed, using any high-rise equipment, or moving any load. Make sure you know the required safe work distances and encroachment prevention precautions for all power lines at your job site, and determine the maximum safe lift height before you start the job. Work with a dedicated spotter to comply with line clearance requirements.

MIOSHA safety standards require that anyone working near power lines stay at least 10 feet away, including any tools or equipment you are using. Metal ladders, cranes and some other specialized equipment require 20 feet of clearance. Higher voltages also may require greater distances. Contact MIOSHA for specific requirements.

Take care with ladders and long handheld tools.
Even non-conductive ladders and tools can conduct electricity in some circumstances, so keep them at least 20 feet away from all power lines at all times. Carry ladders, paint rollers, rain gutters, and other long objects level with the ground. When it’s time to use them, raise and lower them carefully to avoid power lines.

Adjust ladders and tools cautiously.
Before adjusting extension ladders, paint rollers, or other long tools, add your own height and make sure the total height will remain the minimum required clearance away from overhead power lines. Keep in mind that ladders can shift due to wind and unexpected events, so maintain the minimum required clearance plus a buffer zone.

look up live tall long equip2

Carry long equipment parallel to the ground, and adjust tools carefully to maintain the required safety clearance from power lines.

Identify overhead power lines in the area.
Make sure everyone on your crew is familiar with their location. Store wheeled irrigation equipment at least 100 feet from all power lines.

Keep irrigation pipe far away from power lines.
When installing irrigation systems, keep pipes horizontal so you don’t lift them into lines by mistake.

Adjust spray to avoid shock hazards.
Contact Consumers Energy at 1-800-477-5050 to verify voltages and contact MIOSHA for specific rules before work begins.

Irrigation system

Keep irrigation pipe horizontal and far away from power lines.

If a power line falls:

  1. Stay at least 25 feet away from the line and anything it is touching. Instruct others to do the same.
  2. Even if they don’t hum or spark, fallen lines can be deadly.
  3. Notify Consumers Energy at 1-800-477-5050 immediately.

Shuffle, don’t run, from a downed line.
The correct technique for moving away from a downed line is to shuffle with your feet together and on the ground. Fight the urge to run, and warn others not to run. This is because when a live wire touches the ground, electricity travels through the ground in all directions. Voltage decreases as it travels from the center where the live wire is touching the ground. If you run or take large steps, you increase the chance that electricity could come up one leg and go out the other, and you could be shocked.

Look out for lines after storms.
Fallen lines are most common after storms and high winds. If you are outside after a storm, be alert for lines that may be hidden by streams or standing water.

lines1

lines2

Never touch fallen power lines or anything they may be in contact with. Stay far away and call Consumers Energy at 800-477-5050.

If you are operating equipment that contacts an overhead or underground power line and there is no immediate danger, take these steps:

  1. Move the equipment away from the line if you can do so safely.
  2. Tell others to stay away. Anyone on the ground who touches the equipment may be injured or killed.
  3. Stay on the equipment until utility workers signal you off.
  4. Have someone call 911 and Consumers Energy at 800-477-5050 immediately.
  5. Never touch fallen power lines or anything they may be in contact with. Always stay at least 25 feet away and call 911 and Consumers Energy.

If fire or other imminent danger forces you off:
Do not touch the equipment and the ground at the same time. Jump clear, land with your feet together, and shuffle away, keeping both feet together and on the ground.

Equipment hitting power line

If your equipment contacts a power line, stay on the equipment until utility workers signal you off.

Stay away.
Stay clear of any person or any object that is in contact with a power line. Call 911 and Consumers Energy immediately at 800-477-5050. Don’t try to rescue the victim. Stay away until utility workers assure you the power has been turned off.

Protect yourself.
If you touch someone who is in contact with electricity, you could be shocked too. You can also be shocked if you touch the vehicle or equipment that person is in, or the tool they are holding. Again, the best thing to do is to stay far away and call for help.

Power line contact victim

Immediately call 911 and Consumers Energy if someone accidentally contacts a power line. Don’t try to help the victim until you’re sure the power is off.