High-Voltage Power Line Safety Risks and Approaches, Part 2

In part one of this two-part blog series, we went over some of the basics on high-voltage power lines and the proper safety approaches to take when near them. Whether your business is located near such lines or you’re performing contract work in such an area, ensuring the right precautions are taken is vital to not only safety, but also maintaining the quality of the power lines in question.

At Orange Electric, we’re proud to provide a wide variety of commercial electrical services, from minor repairs and maintenance areas to electrical installations and builds. In today’s part two of our series, we’ll evaluate how anyone in situations where they’re close to a high-voltage power line should evaluate the hazards present, plus some of our top safety recommendations for working or staying safe in these locations.

high-voltage power line safety

Distance

As we noted in part one of our series, distance is a primary safety factor when dealing with high-voltage power lines. It’s also one of the easiest precautions to take: It’s simple to set up a basic boundary around all high-voltage lines, ensuring no one crosses into unsafe territory.

How large should this boundary be? The answer depends on the voltage present in the area. Some general voltage ranges (using nominal, phase-to-phase voltage), plus the OSHA minimum distances from any exposed energized parts (including overhead power lines), include:

  • Under 50,000 volts: 10 feet or more
  • 50,000-200,000 volts: 15 feet or more
  • Over 200,000 volts: 20 feet or more

People, machinery and even crops should all be kept at these distances or more. If you do not know the voltage of a given power line, we recommend assuming the higher range and keeping at least 20 feet of distance until you know for sure.

Insulation and Objects

Another important piece of knowledge here is that, generally speaking, high-voltage electrical power lines are not insulated. This means electricity can travel not only through the lines themselves, but may also enter the air and even charge objects that are close by.

This means that not only should the wires themselves never be touched, great care should be taken around other nearby items. Even parking certain machinery too close to a line could present significant shock or electrocution risks.

Tree Safety

If your business is located near a high-voltage power line, we strongly recommend against trimming or otherwise working on trees in the area. Trees can absolutely carry electrical current, meaning you should only call trained professionals for these needs. If you find a tree on your property has fallen into a high-voltage power line, call you power company and our team right away.

For more on staying safe around high-voltage power lines, or to learn about any of our electrical contractors or services, speak to the staff at Orange Electric today.

High-Voltage Power Line Safety Risks and Approaches, Part 1

Safety is a top priority when working on or operating near any significant electrical line or power source, particularly high-voltage sources. Failing to take basic precautions puts you and others at major risk in these situations, plus may also threaten your structures in several ways.

At Orange Electric, we’re proud to offer a variety of commercial electrical services to numerous clients, from basic repairs and maintenance to new electrical build-outs, lighting installations and several other solutions. Whether your building is located near a high-voltage power line, your contractors regularly work near such lines or you simply want to increase your knowledge on safety in these circumstances, this two-part blog will focus on both the potential hazards present and the proper approach to take while ensuring no one is put at risk.

high-voltage power line safety

Overhead Risks

The visible part of high-voltage power lines, located overhead and often several stories above the ground, also serve as some of the primary hazards present in these areas. Here are some general tips on care and safety approaches in these situations, whether you’re located near such an area or temporarily working in one with contractors:

  • Awareness: First and foremost, being aware of all overhead power lines and equipment is vital. Contractors should be aware of such hazards and the areas they cover.
  • Boundary: Before any work is performed in the area, a proper boundary should be established around the entire perimeter. Voltage under 50,000 volts should be kept 10 feet or more away from, while higher voltages require even further distance (anything over 200,000 requires 20 feet).
  • Line clearance: For those utilizing cranes or other height-related items, it’s important to note that electrical line height above the ground may vary significantly depending on power load and other factors.
  • Spotter and care: When using equipment ranging from ladders and scaffolding to cranes or other pieces of equipment, always have a spotter in place and take great care.
  • Compliance: Ensure you’re complying with all OSHA requirements, plus state and federal regulations, if working near or on high-voltage power lines.

Underground Hazards

They aren’t as visible, but high-voltage power lines also present certain underground hazards to those who are not careful. The primary area of concern here is what are known as counterpoise wires, which are buried and run parallel to the actual transmission line. Counterpoise wires are in place to dissipate stray currents like lightning strikes or others.

If these wires are unintentionally damaged by unsuspecting workers or individuals, however, the entire line’s quality is risked. If such an event takes place, make no attempt to reconnect the wire or solve the issue – rather, call our team of commercial electricians right away and let us handle it for you.

For more on safety and proper precautions around high-voltage power lines, or to learn about any of our commercial electrician services, speak to the staff at Orange Electric today.