Armchair Builder

What’s Wrong with This Picture?

We were driving down the road to a job site not long ago and saw this.  Hmmmm.  Do you see anything wrong with this picture?  Other than not being completely focused, there is a huge safety issue here.  It’s an issue that people frequently forget about but can be deadly.

High voltage transmission and distribution lines carry a lot of energy or power and if not treated with respect can be fatal.  The power lines at the top of the picture are dangerously close to the metal arm of the track hoe.  The high voltage electricity running through the wires could serious injury or kill the track hoe operator and anyone nearby if the power jumps to the bucket arm.  But everything is safe as long as the wire is insulated and the arm doesn’t touch the wire…right?  Wrong…here are some electricity facts that could save you and the people working around your home…

  • Electricity seeks the easiest and shortest path to the ground – when objects or people come too close to, or touch an electrical wire, they can become a part of the circuit
  • Less than one ampere of electricity can cause severe injury or death
  • Metals are obviously a great conductor of electricity (think copper wire)…other conductors include humans, ropes, trees and anything with a moisture content or surface contamination can become a conductor
  • Power lines are insulated but not usually to the extent to prevent injury to people…they are usually insulated for tree contact
  • Electricity can jump, or arc, from one object to another…even if they don’t touch (it’s been known to arc up to ten feet through the air from power lines)
  • Power lines age… and when they do insulated coverings can where out, exposing high voltage wiring
To keep everyone on your home building and renovation projects safe, don’t let any objects or people get anywhere near power lines.  Be sure all ladders, tools, cranes, heavy equipment,…etc. are kept a  minimum distance of fifteen feet from power lines.  Its also a good idea to be proactive on your project and remind workers of any high voltage wires nearby.  For information about safe practices when digging, check out our previous article, Underground Utilities:  Call Before You Dig.

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