Contractor Safety Guidelines

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Electrical Safety for Contractors

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Fact Sheet: Call 811 Before You Dig

The "Call 811 Before You Dig" fact sheet can be used as an educational resource for training classes, meetings, community events and other learning opportunities.

Fact Sheet: Look Up For Lines

Use the “Look Up For Lines” Fact Sheet as a tool for training classes, community events, and more.

Accidents Costly to Your and Your Clients

Completing projects on time and on budget is important. So is completing them safely. Each year thousands of workers are killed or seriously injured in construction-related accidents, many of which involve electricity. Accidents are not only costly to you and your client, they can be life-changing to your employees. So, stay alert and avoid shortcuts.

The following guidelines can help reduce the number of tragic accidents and make your projects more successful.

Plan ahead to prevent an accident

  • Plan out the job to help avoid accidents and delays.
  • Know whether a line needs to be de-energized. Contact Southwestern Electric Power Company. They will advise and help with de-energizing the line.
  • Look for hidden power lines when trimming or cutting trees.
  • Contact Southwestern Electric Power Company if you have questions about working around power facilities. Experts can help identify the location of facilities, advise about safe distances from equipment, and provide additional insight into the problem.

Understand safe distances

  • Know the safe distances for overhead lines or what to do about underground lines
  • If you're installing an antenna, be sure that the distance from the power line is at least 1.5 times its total height.

Equipment and tool tips

  • Make sure tools and machinery are clean, in good condition, and working properly.
  • Repair or replace a tool if the insulation is cracked or missing or if the plug is loose.
  • Immediately remove a tool or appliance from service if it shocks, smokes, emits strange odors, sparks, or otherwise behaviors suspiciously.
  • Make sure the amperage rating on an extension cord is greater than or equal to the tools you will be using. Compare the rating labels on the cord and the tool.
  • Never remove the third prong on a plug. It is the ground wire that protects you by providing a safe path to the ground in case of any type of short circuit occurs.
  • Use a clean, dry wood or fiberglass ladder around electric lines -- not metal.
  • Maintain a safe distance when the bed of a dump truck is raised.

When operating a crane...

  • Know the minimum distance the crane can operate safely near a power line.
  • Keep all parts of the crane and load outside of this area unless the line has been de-energized and grounded by the power company.
  • Prevent the crane's boom from weaving or bobbing near or into power lines.
  • Designate a worker to be responsible for signaling the crane operator when any part of the crane or its load approaches the safe distance limit.
  • Do not rely on proximity warning devices, hook insulators, insulating boom guards or cages, swing limit stops, ground rods, or other similar devices; each has its limitations.
  • Don't allow anyone to touch a crane operating near a power line. The crane and worker could become part of the path to ground.
  • Avoid using tag lines except when it is possible for the load to spin into the power line. If you need a tag line, use dry polypropylene, which is less conductive than most other types of rope.
  • Slow down the operating cycle by reducing the hoisting, booming, swinging, and traveling speed.
  • Remember that clearance distances increase as the line span (distance between poles or towers) increases; longer spans have greater sway in the wind or when contacted.

When your equipment or vehicle comes in contact with an energized line...

  • Prevent others from coming in contact with the vehicle. They can become part of the path to the ground.
  • Jump clear of the vehicle.
  • Never jump while touching the vehicle and the ground at the same time.
  • Jump with your feet together landing on both feet.
  • Bunny hop or shuffle away from the vehicle using small steps.

When a person is injured...

  • Don't try to help if they are still in contact with electricity.
  • Seek professional help immediately.