Monday, January 9, 2017

Rigging Near Overhead Powerlines

Crane operation near overhead power lines is one of the most dangerous jobs a rigging crew can undertake. In fact, electrocution is the number one cause of crane-related fatalities, making compliance with OSHA standards and guidelines absolutely crucial when working in close proximity to overhead power lines.
Before equipment is brought to a jobsite near overhead power lines, a 360-degree hazard assessment inside the work zone must be completed. If it is determined that a crane could exceed minimum required distances, further action is required by the contractor. The first option is to coordinate with the power company to have the lines de-energized and visibly grounded. Line owners will sometimes opt to move the lines so that minimum clearance distance can be achieved. Both options require some preplanning as it may take some time to complete the necessary work.
OSHA requirements for working near overhead power lines that are not de-energized are clear cut. For power lines 50 kV or less, all parts of the crane, boom, rigging equipment, and loads carried must be kept at least 10 ft. away. This distance increases to 20 ft. for lines rated 50 kV to 350 kV, and 50 ft. for lines over 350 kV. If the voltage cannot be determined, cranes and rigging equipment must be kept at least 45 ft. away. A planning meeting with the crane operator and riggers must be conducted to review the location of the power lines and implement a rigging plan to prevent encroachment. All tag lines used must be non-conductive to prevent electrocution. An elevated warning line, barricade or line of electrocution hazard warning signs equipped with high-visibility flags must be erected 20 ft. from the power line in view of the crane operator. In addition, the rigging contractor must utilize at least one of the following: a dedicated spotter, proximity alarm, range control device, range of motion limiting device, and/or insulating link.
Crane operators and rigging crew members should be trained to work safely near overhead power lines and how to react if safety measures fail and contact is made. Dedicated spotters have the important responsibility to ensure that the minimum distance is not breach and thus must receive special training.
R. Baker & Son - All Industrial Services
190 Boundary Road
Marlboro, NJ 07746