Contractor Safety Policies and Procedures for Electric Utilities
Electric utilities should have policies and procedures in place to address the safety of contractors when they are working near energized, high-voltage electric lines.
Federal and state laws prohibit non-qualified persons from working within specified distances of power lines. Each utility refers to applicable state power line safety acts and OSHA Title 29 of the Code of Federal Regulations including, but not limited to:
- 29 CFR 1910.269
- 29 CFR 1910.333
- 29 CFR 1926.600
- 29 CFR 1926.1407
- 29 CFR 1926.1408
- 29 CFR 1926.1411 – Cranes and Derricks
- 29 CFR 1926.451 – Scaffolding
AEGIS Loss Control suggests electric utilities consider the following when developing contractor safety policies and procedures.
- Upon request from individuals, contractors or anyone planning to work in the vicinity of the utility's electric facilities, or when the utility is aware of construction activities in the vicinity, a qualified company representative should visit and assess the site.
- If the proposed construction activities would violate the OSHA or state-specified approach distances, the utility representative should determine available options, which may include:
- De-energizing and visibly grounding the circuit or equipment at a location near or close to the point of work, if possible.
- Temporarily relocating the company's facilities away from the work zone.
- Rebuilding the company's facilities underground.
- Advising the contractor or individual to redesign the project so that construction activities can proceed safely given the pre-existing power lines.
- Establish consistent practices when contractors or individuals request that electric facilities be flagged or marked.
- Install conspicuous rubber guards or visual indications to help contractors avoid coming near energized equipment. Utility companies that install protective coverings, such as line guards, line mats, line hoses or other similar devices, should inform contractors that the presence of such coverings shall not be construed as reducing the minimum approach distance required.
- If line protective coverings are installed, verify they conform with periodic testing requirements. The protective covering should be electrically tested within a specified period, as per company policy.
- After installation, the utility should periodically check, inspect and, if necessary, replace the protective coverings.
- Document that the contractor has been informed not to violate the applicable minimum approach distance.
- Discuss the precautions above with contractors, provide the company's Public Safety Awareness materials for contractors that include safety messages, and document the communication. Depending on the duration of the project, this communication should be provided periodically and documented.
- Provide consistent direction to utility employees regarding actions to take if they observe contractors working or setting up too close to energized facilities. Utility employees who are knowledgeable about the safe clearances contractors are required to maintain from electric facilities have the ability to stop any unsafe work and make the contractor aware of the problem. The issue may be immediately rectified, or referred to the utility's engineering professionals for necessary changes before permitting the work to proceed safely.
- Utility employees who work in the field should be trained to identify obvious hazards and report them to the appropriate safety or operations personnel for support and action.
For more information about contractor safety policies and procedures for electric utilities, please contact one of these AEGIS Loss Control Electric Utility Professionals:
Laura Strowbridge by e-mail or by phone at 201.508.2749
Dan Gudleski by e-mail or by phone at 201.508.2733
Jyotin Thaker by e-mail or by phone at 201.508.2861
Annie Wong by e-mail or by phone at 201.508.2711
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