Safety Tips Working Around Overhead Electric Lines

As warmer summer weather settles in, Consumers Energy, a Michigan utility, is reminding anyone performing aerial work to look up and avoid overhead electric lines.

Summer months typically include outdoor projects such as painting, building and pruning trees, picking fruit and farming that involve the use of ladders, scaffolding and power equipment.

Activities such as moving RVs and boats with raised masts are also common. All require you to know where overhead electric lines are so you can avoid them.

The company offered the following five tips to help stay safe around overhead electric lines:

Survey your job site every day before work begins to locate electric lines, poles and guy wires. Be alert for lines hidden by trees or buildings. If you have concerns about electric line clearance, call Consumers Energy at 800-477-5050 (residential customers) or 800-805-0490 (business customers).

Have an emergency plan in place before beginning work near electric lines.

Michigan safety standards require anyone working near power lines to stay at least 10 feet away, including any tools or equipment you are using. (Other states have similar guidelines. Check your state’s first). Metal ladders, cranes and some other specialized equipment require 20 feet of clearance. Be aware that even nonmetallic tools can conduct electricity.

Trees can conduct electric current. Before moving a tree under a power line, look up and determine the overhead clearance from the top of the tree. Keep the right distance away.

Clearly mark boundaries with tape, signs, or barricades to keep workers and equipment the required distance away. Use a spotter if needed.

Farmers are also reminded to look up when using agricultural equipment to avoid electric lines Farmers often work dawn to dusk planting and harvesting crops and are always urged to remain vigilant to locations of overhead electric lines.

In the event a vehicle or riding equipment contacts an electric line:

Stay in the vehicle until help arrives, if it is safe to do so.

If you must exit the vehicle, jump off and land with feet together without touching the ground and the vehicle at the same time.

Shuffle at least 20 feet away with feet together.

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