Today’s Monday Tech Talk topic is Safe Distance Form Overhead Power Lines. Overhead power lines are often an overlooked aspect that could cause fatal incidents when the safety distances are not calculated in the correct manner.

So, what is an overhead power line?

In layman’s terms, an overhead power line is a structure used in electrical power transmission and distribution to transmit electrical energy across large distances. The line consists of two main parts, namely pylons known as the tower and conductors which are the wires.

The towers are usually steel freestanding vertical frameworks mounted on concrete foundations. The overall design of the tower can differ due to numerous factors such as voltage, conductor type and the strength of the structure required. Conductors (wires) which are the live part of the overhead power line, are connected and hang from the tower on insulators. Conductors may differ in design depending on the amount of power being transmitted on the circuit.

Safe Distances from Overhead Power Lines:

Table C.1 safety distances from power line

Safety Precautions to prevent Incidents: 

The hierarchy of controls is a system for controlling and eliminating risk in the workplace. It ranks each risk from the highest level of protection and reliability through to the lowest and least reliable protection. With regards to power lines, the main goal would be to isolate the risk/line, however, another precaution is to make use of an ultrasonic height meter to determine the height of the line. This is to ensure that no one will work within close proximity to the power line. 

Specific site inspections and discussions could be conducted to determine the allowed height to perform work, as per the requirements indicated in SANS 10280 table C.1 safety distances from power lines. Another aspect to consider is to have specific spotters in place, as spotters or signalmen could warn an operator when the minimum distance of approach is close. 

Exclusion zones should be allocated as these barricaded areas are predetermined to keep employees and machinery out of harm’s way. Awareness amongst work teams is critical, having a trained and informed team working on-site can prevent incidents from occurring. Along with an informed team, personal protective equipment is also important, workers should wear rubber-insulating gloves and insulating sleeves with industrial protective hardhats. Other tools could also ensure safety such as non-conductive wood or fibreglass ladders. 

Any truck cranes, mobile cranes and MEWPS must be earthed when working near power lines. And finally, relative warning signs indicating the restricted height and the specific voltage of the power line must be placed in the working area.

Follow these precautions to ensure that any incident is avoided when working close to any area that has power lines. As this is not a common risk considered when working on construction sites. This Monday Tech Talk – Safe Distance Form Overhead Power Lines covered many aspects

Since 27 February 2004, Cairnmead Industrial Consultants (Pty) Ltd has issued over 5,090. Health and Safety Specifications / Plans. From 2014, these Health and Safety Specifications have been issued with a Baseline Risk Assessment as per the legal requirements of the Construction Regulations of February 2014.

Presented by: Stephen Friend

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