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Electrical Safety in the Workplace

Most powerline contacts happen on construction sites and workplaces. They all are preventable. Learn ways to keep yourself, your workers, and the public safe from the various types of electrical hazards that you face on worksites every day.

Stop. Look. Live.

Before you start work, look up and around the site to make sure you and your crew are aware of overhead lines. Ladders, cranes and pipes are all good conductors of electricity, and remember, it does not need to be touching a power line to be energized.

A downed power line is deadly

If you spot a fallen wire, keep at least 10 metres away (the length of a full-sized school bus), even if it does not appear to be live. If a wire falls across your vehicle and you can’t drive away from it, do not get out–you could become a path for electricity if you touch the ground. If you must get out for safety reasons, such as fire or possible explosion, hop out clear of the vehicle and land on both feet, then hop or shuffle until you are 10 metres clear of the vehicle.

Remember the safe limits of approach

Electricity can arc or “jump” from the wire to a conducting object like a ladder or a truck. Keep at least 3 metres (length of two park benches) distance between you and overhead distribution power lines and 6 metres (length of three park benches) for high voltage transmission lines at all times.

Be aware of safety hazards below

Find out where it is safe to dig by calling: 1-800-400-2255 or submitting an e-ticket on the Ontario One Call Website. The call is free, and it is the law.

Avoid overhead lines

To avoid a potential accident, never stand irrigation pipes near overhead power lines. Always have someone ready to warn you when you are getting too close. Keep at least 3 metres (the length of two park benches) distance between you and overhead distribution power lines and 6 metres for high voltage transmission lines at all times.

You hold their lives in your hands

Safety training is critical; you hold your workers’ lives in your hands. Do not put them at risk. Ensure that they have the critical safety training they need to go home safely to their families.

When approaching lines be careful. Below are the minimum distances of approach between workers or equipment and power lines:

  • 750 to 150,000 volt lines: minimum distance is 3 metres or 10 feet (or the length of a ping pong table)
  • 150,000 to 250,000 volt lines: minimum distance is 4.5 metres or 15 feet (or the length of five baseball bats)

Greater than 250,000 volt lines: minimum distance is 6 metres or 20 feet (or one giraffe)

Additional Safety at Work Resources

  • The Electrical Safety Authority has a number of resources for employers and their staff. Visit their Powerline Safety Tips for Construction Workers page to help you learn how to avoid the hazards caused by overhead powerlines on job sites.
  • [Enova] through a partnership with MySafeWork is committed to building a strong safety culture and encouraging workers across the world to refuse unsafe work. For more information on empowering students and workers to stand up to unsafe work practices, visit mysafework.com/courageous. For more information and resources from MySafeWork, visit www.mysafework.com.

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