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CRANES & OVERHEAD POWER LINES

In a recent four-year review of work-related crane fatalities, 312 people died and only 30 of these were crane operators. The other unfortunate people were working on or near the crane-laborers, riggers, welders, iron workers, carpenters or truck drivers. 72 people, or 23%, died when the crane contacted an energized overhead power line. Guiding the load, walking the load in a pick-and-carry operation, or contacting the wire rope when the crane touched the power line were the most common ways electricity found a path to a worker.

Overhead power lines kill! For this reason everyone in proximity to a crane, when energized lines are near, must stay alert. It takes employee teamwork to successfully and safely operate under this combination of conditions.

Power lines can be hard for the crane operator to see. They sometimes appear to be either further away or much closer than they really are. It is difficult for the human eye to accurately judge the clearance between the crane's boom or line, and a power line. Fellow workers can help assure that safe clearances are being maintained between the crane, the line, the load and the overhead power line. The table below shows basic clearance minimums, which apply to all areas around the power line-above, below or to either side:

Power Line Voltage Minimum Clearance
up to 50k 10 feet
50k to 75k 11 feet
75k to 125k 13 feet
125k to 175k 15 feet
175k to 250k 17 feet
250k to 370k 21 feet
370k to 550k 27 feet
550k to 1,000k 42 feet

What can you do to help ensure safe operations around energized power lines?

Stay Alert! Cranes vs. power lines only have one winner-the power lines!

 

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