Guy wires and power lines can be a deadly mix, OSHA warns

Photo: OSHA

Washington — Spurred by a number of deaths in which a guy wire being worked on contacted an energized high-voltage power line, OSHA has issued a hazard alert.

In some of the cases, OSHA says its investigations revealed that the guy wires “weren’t grounded and had insulators positioned incorrectly.”

Guy wires are installed on poles for support. According to the agency, workers on the ground can be exposed to electrical hazards when:

  • Installing a new guy wire on a pole with energized lines.
  • Adjusting the tension to remove slack from a guy wire.
  • Replacing a guy wire after an incident or natural disaster.

“To protect employees, guy wires must be either effectively grounded or have properly positioned insulators to block the flow of electric current,” OSHA says.

The alert features illustrations on proper and improper positioning of insulation on guy wires.

“OSHA recommends employers follow relevant guidelines in consensus standards, such as the National Electrical Safety Code (IEEE, NESC-C2), which recommends ungrounded guy wires have insulators installed to prevent electric current from traveling down the guy wire to below 8 feet above the ground level,” the alert states.

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Original article published by Safety+Health an NSC publication

Ladders and overhead power lines

First published by Safety+Health an NSC publication

From 1992 to 2005, at least 154 workers were killed after a metal ladder they were using came in contact with an overhead power line, according to Bureau of Labor Statistics data cited in a recent NIOSH review.

“As part of the site safety program and orientation,” NIOSH says, “make supervisors and workers aware of power line distances from work areas, including ladder length and ladder staging areas. Use site diagrams to communicate this information and ground-level signs or taped markers to remind workers of overhead power line locations.”

To help prevent injuries and fatalities, NIOSH recommends workers:

  • Look up. You need to know the location of overhead power lines before starting any job. “Always assume all overhead lines are energized and dangerous,” the agency says.
  • Don’t use metal ladders when working around or near overhead power lines.
  • Carry a ladder horizontally and in a lowered position when moving it. If a ladder is too long for one person to carry, ask for help.
  • Follow the 1:4 rule: “For every 4 feet between the ground and the upper point where a ladder is resting, set the feet of the ladder out 1 foot horizontally. For example, if the ladder is resting on the edge of a roof 16 feet above the ground, the bottom of the ladder should be 4 feet out from that edge.”
  • Don’t touch or go near a person or ladder that has come in contact with an overhead power line.

McCraren Compliance assists employers in protecting their workers, starting with a comprehensive Work-site Analysis, Hazard Prevention, Controls, and Safety & Health Training.

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