MISSISSAUGA, ONT. — Ontario’s Electrical Safety Authority (ESA) has published a new ESA Quick Guide to powerline safety with tips intended to protect new hires and young apprentices on worksites.
In Ontario, the construction sector had the highest number of overhead powerline contacts with 481 contacts between 2015 to 2019, a release noted. This is a 31-per-cent increase from 2010 to 2014. Contact with powerlines while on the job accounted for 34 per cent of all occupational electrical fatalities between 2010 to 2019.
With young males comprising much of the construction workforce, they are the most at risk for powerline dangers and fatalities. Males 20 to 29 years of age represent over 2,200 emergency room visits from electrical injury in the past 10 years.
Powerline safety tips found in the new guide include:
- Look up, look out. Identify all powerlines onsite and keep people and equipment at least three metres away to prevent an incident. Electricity can jump to you or your equipment if you’re too close to a powerline.
- Before you begin any excavation work, contact Ontario One Call. Ask for a cable locate for all utility-owned underground infrastructure. Privately owned underground powerlines require a private locate.
- You must have a competent, designated signaller as a second set of eyes to support drivers of dump trucks and other high-reach vehicles when working in the vicinity of overhead powerlines. This makes sure equipment doesn’t come within three metres of overhead powerlines.
- Ensure that dump trucks onsite lower the box after dropping off a load. It’s good practice to have a “raised box” indicator installed in the truck to remind the driver when the box is raised.
- Always stay alert. Incidents often happen at the end of the day, when workers are tired or rushing to finish a job.
- If wires fall on the vehicle or the ground, always assume they are still energized. Stay in the vehicle, call 911 and the local utility and tell everyone including first responders to stay back 10 metres (the length of a school bus) from the powerline. Only the local utility worker onsite can confirm when the power is off and tell you when it’s safe to exit the vehicle.
- If the vehicle is on fire and you need to exit, you should jump clear with both feet together without touching the ground and the vehicle at the same time and hop or shuffle away from the downed powerline with feet still together at least 10 metres away from the powerline.