July 14, 2015
In theory, overhead power lines are designed so that there is sufficient clearance between the energized conductors and the ground – but in practice, the outcomes are different. Nationwide, overhead power line injuries have outnumbered all other types of electrical injury since the Bureau of Labor Statistics began tracking these cases in 1992. Even a low-voltage shock can kill, but overhead power lines are routinely operated at voltages exceeding 765,000 volts between conductors.
Most overhead power line injuries occur in occupations that work on overhead lines, such as line workers. But many other workers – painters, roofers, truck drivers, farmers, window cleaners, crane operators, and tree trimmers – are severely shocked or electrocuted when they inadvertently contact an overhead line.
That happened earlier this month in Oregon when two employees were attempting to erect a 30-foot aluminum scaffold pole. They lost control and the pole fell onto a power line, shocking them. One employee survived with serious burns, the other died from his injuries hours later.
Remember, Oregon's Overhead Line Safety Act requires that no work take place within 10 feet of a high-voltage overhead power line until the utility has been notified and precautions have been made to complete the work safely.
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