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N.L. utility companies urge contractors to locate power lines before beginning work

By COS Staff

Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro and Newfoundland Power are urging the public, contractors and heavy equipment operators to take a moment to identify the location of overhead or underground power lines before beginning work.

In 2012, Hydro and Newfoundland Power recorded 136 power line contacts by the public and contractors. So far in 2013, there have been 64 line contacts.

“People who work around power lines, or are completing a project in close proximity to power lines, need to stop and look around them before starting the job,” said Gary Smith, vice-president, customer operations and engineering with Newfoundland Power. "People know that coming into contact with an energized power line can cause severe injury or even death, but we need them to keep it top of mind.”

Smith says by taking the time to locate and ensure adequate clearances from overhead and underground power lines before beginning work, electrical contacts can be prevented.

The majority of incidents this year have involved contractors and operators using large equipment such as excavators, dump trucks, boom trucks, cranes, tractors and trailers.

Other power line contacts have involved members of the general public engaged in construction projects around the home and trimming or cutting trees near power lines.

“We continue to be concerned about the number of power line contacts we see every year,” said Rob Henderson, vice-president of Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro. “This is a busy period for construction activities, so it’s important for contractors and operators of heavy equipment to keep safety top of mind and be extra cautious when working near power lines.”

Specific requirements for maintaining clearances and providing worker training are mandated by the province’s Occupational Health and Safety Regulations. Special permits are required when working near energized power lines. Operators of equipment with the capability of contacting overhead or underground power lines must attend an approved Power Line Hazards safety course.

“As utilities, our top priority is to ensure the safety of employees, contractors and the public,” said Smith. “Our objective is to continue to raise awareness among those who work around power lines, reminding them to take precautions to ensure the safety of themselves and others.”

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