“Stop, Look, and Live” – Powerline Safety message from ESA
By Anthony Capkun
May 12, 2020 – Ontario’s Electrical Safety Authority has declared May 11 to 17 as “Powerline Safety Week”, and is reminding both residents and professionals to avoid potentially deadly powerline contact incidents by employing three critical steps: stop, look, and live.
“Whether you are doing yard work at home or you are a construction worker on a jobsite, powerline safety is a collective responsibility. Everyone has a part to play,” says Dr. Joel Moody, chief public safety officer, ESA. “Distractions can be deadly, and a life-threatening injury or fatality can occur in the blink of an eye.”
Overhead powerline contact was the leading cause of electrical incidents between 2009 and 2018, reports the agency. Construction workers and high-reach equipment operators are particularly exposed, with occupational fatalities accounting for 63% of powerline deaths occurring in Ontario in the last decade.
“There are many myths about powerlines that need to be busted,” Moody continues. “Plenty of people think that overhead powerlines aren’t dangerous unless you come into contact with them, but that’s not the case. Electricity can jump or arc from the lines to nearby objects, including people or tools. That’s why we’re encouraging everyone in Ontario to practise powerline safety and reminding them to stop, look and live.”
Tips from ESA
• Distractions can be deadly. Powerlines are dangerous, even for the most seasoned operator of high-reach equipment.
• Identify all powerlines onsite and keep all high-reach equipment at least 3 metres away. You do not have to come into direct contact with a powerline to receive a shock. Electricity can arc to you or your tools if you get too close.
• Ensure you have a competent, designated signaller to alert you when you are approaching the 3 m clearance from an overhead powerline. Dump truck drivers on jobsites must always lower their boxes after completing a drop off.
• Should wires fall on or near the vehicle, always assume both the truck and the ground is energized. Stay in the vehicle, call 911 and the local utility, and keep everyone—including first responders—at least 10 metres (the length of a school bus) away from the equipment. Do not exit the vehicle until the onsite utility worker can confirm the power is Off and it is safe to exit.
• Should the vehicle catch fire and you need to exit, then jump clear of the vehicle—with both feet together—being careful not to touch the vehicle and the ground at the same time. Then, hop or shuffle away from the downed powerline with feet still together until you are at least 10 m away from the powerline.
Everyone has a role to play, adds ESA. It is good practice to inform everyone on the jobsite—including subs—of all electrical hazards. Install warning signs identifying the powerline hazards. Powerline safety is a collective responsibility, which means every member of the crew should be watching for powerlines and looking out for one another.
The Electrical Safety Authority is an administrative authority acting on behalf of the Government of Ontario. It is responsible for administering specific regulations related to the Ontario Electrical Safety Code, the licensing of Electrical Contractors and Master Electricians, electricity distribution system safety, and electrical product safety.