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Keep safe distances from powerlines, says IPAF at Lift Safety Zone


March 8, 2014
By Anthony Capkun


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March 8, 2014 – In light of accident data pointing to electrocutions as one of the largest causes of AWP-related fatalities in the United States, the International Powered Access Federation (IPAF) has called on aerial work platform (AWP) operators and managers to always be aware of—and keep safe distances from—powerlines.

IPAF highlighted this safety message with a display at the Lift Safety Zone at the CONEXPO-CON/AGG show, which illustrated the safe and minimum approach distances for AWPs when working near powerlines. (Note: this is U.S.-specific data. Best practice may differ in Canada.)

“Electrocutions can be prevented, through proper planning, risk assessment and management of work at height, including thorough operator training and familiarization,” said IPAF technical officer Chris Wraith.

The demonstration illustrated two recommended safe distances:

• 50 ft (15 m) + fully extended boom from electrical pylons
• 30 ft (9 m) + fully extended boom from cables on wooden poles

“Knowing the voltage is essential to determine the minimum approach distance (MAD), which is the safest distance a person who has not had specific training in avoiding electrical hazards should approach live overhead cables,” explained Tony Groat, IPAF North America manager. “It is possible to work closer to powerlines than the IPAF-recommended safe distances, but this should only be undertaken after seeking expert advice from the power supplier and implementing extra safety precautions.”

According to IPAF, these recommended safe distances meet or exceed those specified in ANSI standards and OSHA requirements.