Workplace Safety: Get Employees Involved

For some employers’ safety is the most important aspect of their business, a healthy investment which their company strives to promote throughout the workplace. Yet others see safety as code for an over burdensome waste of time, money, and effort. For businesses struggling with safety culture improvement, here are a few tips to raise and increase awareness.

Increase the importance and awareness of the benefits of safety in the work place. Employees may be hesitant to embrace safety if they feel that it does not apply to them. It is important that employees understand that even if they are not working on machines or climbing to dangerous heights, that they are still at risk of injury. Include information and statistics on real life safety topics such as food preparation, or slip and falls in rest rooms or walking down a hallway. Topics like these will show employees that there are risks involved with every job! Videos of real workplace safety hazards and community safety programs can help get the point across. Encourage employees to include their family members in the safety message. Injuries can affect people at home or at work.

Another great way to involve employees in the safety environment and concern of the business is by creating a new safety committee/board, or inviting them to join your existing safety committee/board or if no committee /board exist, to have a monthly meeting with the employer to discuss the safety aspect. Make sure management allows employees to participate during work time. Employees may not want to take their free time to discuss this matter and it confirms that the employer is respectful of the employees’ time. A safety meeting should have representatives from all levels of the organization, from management to laborers. This gives employees the opportunity to express any concerns they may have along with efforts to ensure those issues are addressed with everyone’s impute. Sometimes employees may provide options that the employer can utilize and this will buster good will between all parties. The committee can also create goals for safety compliance, including rewarding employees for participating or making safety improvements.

Since safety does not remain of the minds of employee every second, a simple way to keep safety in the minds of your employees is to include a reminder in their paycheck envelopes, send emails, text messages or safety news update boards in employee areas. Providing and sharing safety tips, statistics, and real-life stories about other companies like your own are just a few examples of what can be included. Ask your employees for suggestions or ideas on what they would like to learn more about. Additional, host safety training seminars or meeting at the workplace. These meeting should take place during work hours. This will keep safely a little more on the minds of the employee and provide safety updates.

The focus of the committee and the employer encouragement to the employee should be to help the employer identify the hazard and correct it. Encourage employees to look for hazards in the workplace and report them to the appropriate personnel to correct the problem! Make workplace safety a habit not a hassle.

Your Express Guide To Protective Equipment

Protective Equipment Explained

This section gives advice about general personal protective equipment (PPE), which may be required to protect against injury. Hard hats: On almost all sites there is a risk of injury from falling materials. Minimise these risks by providing suitable barriers and toe boards at the edge of work platforms to prevent materials from falling. Deal with the remaining risks by providing suitable head protection. The Construction (Head Protection) Regulations 198940 make specific requirements about hard hats. Hard hats are required where anybody might be struck by falling materials or where people might hit their heads.

These are just some of the hazards to consider: loose material being kicked into an excavation; material falling from a scaffold platform; material falling off a load being lifted by a crane or goods hoist or carried on a site dumper or truck; a scaffolder dropping a fitting while erecting or dismantling a scaffold. Decide on which areas of the site hats have to be worn. Tell everyone in the area, if necessary make site rules. Provide employees with hard hats. Make sure hats are worn and worn correctly. There are many types of hat available; let employees try a few and decide which is most suitable for the job and for them. Some hats have extra features including a sweatband for the forehead and a soft (or webbing) harness. Although these hats are slightly more expensive, they are much more comfortable and therefore more likely to be worn.


Is there a risk of injury from either: materials being dropped on workers’ feet; or nails, or other sharp objects, penetrating the sole? If so, boots with steel toecaps and mid-soles may be needed. Foot protection comes in many types and styles and manufacturers offer advice on the most suitable footwear for specific types of hazard. Wellington boots are essential in preventing burns from wet cement or concrete as the cement content, when mixed with water, becomes highly corrosive and can cause severe burns to the skin.

Goggles and safety spectacles

These are required to protect against: flying objects, eg when using a nail gun. To provide adequate protection goggles should be shatter-proof – check the manufacturer’s specification; sparks, eg when disc-cutting; ultraviolet radiation from welding – specialist goggles or shields are required; chemical splashes. Eye protection should be readily available in sufficient numbers so that any that are lost, destroyed or become defective can be replaced. If protection against corrosive splashes is needed, visors can protect the whole face.

Outdoor clothing

Where employees regularly work outdoors and they cannot be sheltered from the weather, wind and waterproof clothing will be needed. There should be facilities for storing clothing not worn on site and protective clothing as well as for drying wet clothing, A major hazard to the skin is exposure to ultraviolet rays from the sun. The effects can vary from sunburn (blistering and peeling of the skin) to permanent damage and increased risk of skin cancer. Construction workers who are outdoors for long periods of time are at the greatest risk and should take steps to protect their skin by: wearing a long-sleeved top and covering their legs; regularly applying high-protection sun cream to exposed skin; and carrying out periodic checks for any visible changes in skin, such as changed or newly formed moles or any skin discolouration.

High-visibility clothing

Many accidents happen when people in hazardous positions cannot be seen. It is important to plan work to avoid placing people in these positions. Where this is not possible, provide high-visibility clothing. It is essential that this clothing be kept clean if it is to be effective. Badly soiled garments should be replaced. High-visibility clothing will be needed wherever workers: could be run down by vehicles, eg signallers assisting with vehicles being manoeuvred and anyone engaged in roadworks; need to be seen by others to allow them to work safely, eg signallers assisting in lifting operations need to be clearly visible to the crane driver.

How To Make A Cleaner, Greener New Zealand Environment: Hazardous Waste Management

New Zealand boasts a clean, green, environmentally utopic image to the rest of the world. We pride ourselves on being 100% pure and natural, but sadly our badge of honour is fading and our true colours are starting to shine through.

Pollution coupled with the increasing amount of solid and liquid hazardous waste is a growing concern, threatening our environment, our oceans, our sustainability, and our health. The aftermath of the earthquakes in the South Island see millions of dollars spent on recycling, managing and disposing of hazardous waste debris, whilst in the North Island we are becoming plagued with water pollution.

Whilst we can’t prevent all types of waste, we can help to make a cleaner, green NZ. Large businesses account for the majority of hazardous and chemical waste pollution,therefore it is essential that these companies realise the negative effects that poor waste management is causing and take control by educating their employees and hire a certified, professional waste management service to deal with the handling, transport, treatment and elimination procedures.

Many large and small businesses here in New Zealand use a company whom they entrust their corporate waste to. Unfortunately, it has come to light that some of these companies are more than happy to take your waste off you, for a large amount of money, yet they do not follow through with the intended disposal agreement; instead they pocket the cash and dump the waste illegally, causing catastrophic damage to our environment and clean, green image.

For NZ Business’s: It is important that when choosing a waste management company that you can trust them to dispose of your waste safely and efficiently. To be sure that your waste company is recycling or destroying your waste as agreed, you are entitled – and encouraged – to ask for a disposal certificate. This guarantees that your waste has been transported, handled and disposed of correctly, giving you and your business peace of mind.

By organisations working together with waste management and disposal companies, we can work towards improving New Zealand’s clean, green image. But further to waste disposal being hazardous and damaging towards our environment, it is also costly. However, if you take the time to shop around you can find a waste management service that you can trust and who will actually save you money!

A great locally owned kiwi company will also offer you services such as health & safety training, chemical safety training, environmental compliance training, auditing and more. You should always check that your waste management company is;

o Approved Handlers Certified
o Bulk Dangerous Goods Driver Endorsed
o Heavy Vehicle Class 4 Licenced
o Consented Hazardous Waste Treatment Facility

If you are wondering if you have hazardous substances on your company property, some of the main hazardous waste materials in New Zealand include – but are not limited to;

• Solvents
• Pesticides
• Lab Chemicals
• Industrial Chemicals
• Paint, Oils, Thinners
• Expired Products
• Aerosols
• Oxidising Agents
• Acids and Bases
• Reactive Chemicals
• Caustics/Bases/Alkalis

All of these hazardous and chemical waste products can be dealt with in a safe, controlled manner by waste management specialists in your area. Let’s keep New Zealand clean and green!

6 Useful Tips for Workplace Safety

Anyone in charge of running a business will appreciate the importance of workplace safety. A clean and healthy workplace is essential for employees to avoid getting hurt and creates the environment that is a pleasure to work in. Plus, it is always a requirement to comply with local standards and regulations.

Here are six useful tips on creating the clean and healthy workplace:

Keep your work area clutter-free

A fresh, clean and organized office is that much more pleasurable to work. A common cause of accidents is tripping or slipping on spills or other objects on the floor. It is essential to keep aisles clutter-free, organized and clean to minimize the risk of accidents. Also, any office should have rules in place to make sure spills are cleaned up straight away.

Care with slippery floors

Any area of the workplace that has a high risk of creating spills on the floors, such as in front of a sink can benefit from using mats. A non-slip rubber mat is a quick and simple solution to increase employee safety and prevents employees from having a nasty fall. The high-quality mats have the ability to absorb nearly 80% of water spills.

Stay safe with combustible materials

It is essential for combustible materials to be stored properly to avoid the risk of a fire. They should be stored in appropriate housing that is secure, well vented, and in a temperature controlled environment. Also, any spills for these materials should be professionally cleaned up to avoid further issues.

Provide proper training in the workplace

Any employee that is expected to handle machinery, equipment or tools must get the proper training. The employees that aren’t yet trained should stay away from heavy machinery. Also, the newly trained employees can benefit from having a trained person supervise them when first using this type of equipment.

Clearly mark hazardous zones

Areas in the workplace that are used for storing dangerous equipment should be clearly marked. Walkways can benefit from clear labeling, or even white and black stripes painted on the floor. This lets everyone know the designated hazardous zones and helps to minimize potential accidents or injuries.

Essentials for Construction Site Safety

No matter the type of construction your company is involved in, there can be many potential hazards on the jobsite that can result in injury, and in extreme cases, even death. In addition, any safety mishaps on the jobsite can cause downtime, additional expenses and even cause your company to miss important deadlines. So, it’s critical to give your workers some basic guidelines to follow at all times when they are on the jobsite. Here are some essential safety tips to keep you and your workers safe on the jobsite.

Visibility can be a critical issue on job sites. Make sure you give your workers the proper accessories needed to make sure they are easily visible to any crane or machinery operators and also to other workers in the area. Ear and eye protection is also important, such as hearing protection headsets and safety glasses. Vests are a common site on construction sites nowadays, and they should include bright colors.

Many times, structures involved in building are not secured properly until late in the process. Be sure to anchor any temporary or unsecured structures while the building process is still taking place. Workers should also be equipped at all times with proper safety gear such as hard hats and fall protection equipment and accessories.

Often on a construction site, there may be temporary heat, water, gas or electricity lines open to the job site. It’s critical that all workers know where these areas are and how to move around them. Live electrical wires should never be left exposed.

Machinery and tractors are often used on job sites, it’s important to check the maintenance on these machines before every use, but especially their safety measures, such as lighting and sound warnings. Your workers should always be reminded to be on the lookout for moving machinery that is in use.

Many times, temporary workers may be on the job site, such as workers installing a device or decoration that may only take a few hours or a day. It’s critical to let these workers know the basics of safety on the jobsite before they are let into it.

Slipping and falling is a common problem on job sites. Workers can fall off of ladders, scaffolding or uneven surfaces. They might also trip on the many machines and cords that can run through a job site. Make sure proper warnings are posted around the site to watch their step, and make sure all workers have proper foot wear for the particular environment that they are working in.

No matter how careful you and your workers are, accidents can still happen on a job site. Equipment can fail without warning, or the weather, such as wind, rain or even a natural disaster such as an earthquake or flood may cause an accident on the site. This is why it is critical to have an emergency plan for when something happens

9 Reasons to Hire an Office Cleaning Company

Did you know that every year there are thousands of man hours lost in offices all around the globe, simply because the office is not clean? It might sound crazy, but the office environment is not as clean as one might want to believe. Yes, the floor may have been vacuumed or swept, and the trash has been taken out but this does not necessarily equate the perfectly healthy clean office. In fact, many people (71% according to a study by the University of Arizona) believe that their less than stellar work environment has led to a past illness or virus.

This is a problem that goes beyond the germs spread in an office scenario, but is due to many offices not being serious about true, deep cleaning such as that done by an office cleaning company. In fact, another study by Durable of the United Kingdom, revealed that 82% of office workers believe they would healthier and would be able to work harder in a cleaner environment. And the reality is, there is a fair bit of science to back up this thought. Consider these stats regarding the state of the office.

· There is typically 445 times more bacteria on your desk than on a toilet seat

· Properly disinfecting your desk can remove 99.9% of germs

· 60% of office illnesses are caused by dirty office surfaces

· The average office worker’s desk has about 10 million bacteria.

· 62% of Americans eat lunch at their desks, but only 20% of the people who eat at their desk clean their workspace before eating at it. There are over 20,000 germs per square inch that live on your keyboard, computer mouse, and office chair.

· Diseases can be transferred through a variety of items. 25% of water cooler buttons are considered a serious risk for transmission of various diseases.

· Office phones have approximately 25,000 germs per square inch.

· The air quality in a closed office space can be 500% worse than the air quality outside.

· Without daily sanitizing, office surfaces’ bacteria count increase 30% every day.

To be a truly effective and efficient company you need people who can be there to get the job done. When you bring in an office cleaning company to not just maintain your workspace but do some real deep cleaning, you will likely be amazed at just how much better your office work flows. Sure, people will get sick, but chances are, it will be less often – and that’s a win for everyone.

Potential Fire Hazards And Preventive Measures

Fire can be a huge potential risk in any working environment. Workers die every year due to the inhalation of smoke or workers falling to their death from multi-story buildings. Taking necessary preventive measures can avoid fire-related incidents. Risk assessment can improve fire safety in a workplace. Finding out the chances of a fire occurring and the potential risk fire poses to the workforce is the prime function of the risk assessment process. Following are the five major steps a factory should include in its risk assessment process:

— Identify the potential fire hazards

— Identify employees most vulnerable to a potential fire

— Evaluating the potential risk and implementing preventive measures

— Keeping a record of the findings and data

— Taking assessment as a constant process and making necessary changes

We can further discuss these five-step strategy in detail. In the first step, safety managers should look at the sources of ignition, combustible material, and the processes that could create a fire hazard. Sources of ignition could be many from electrical wiring to poor machine maintenance and it is not hard to highlight the combustible material.

If there is a fire in a facility, the first priority should be to save lives and evacuate the building of all employees. The fire spread quickly and workers can be overcome with heat and smoke that can kill them. Therefore, there must be a safety procedure in place to warn employees before fire takes over.

Apart from all the preventive measures safety managers can take, employees should stay ready and wear safety garments which can help them avoid the heat. Firefighters generally wear clothes that are relevant to their work. Fire retardant coveralls is one of the examples of safety clothes that can help workers survive a fire. Workwear cannot be used as a sole technique to deal with workplace hazards. Fire is a serious hazard which demands thorough safety plans.

It is almost inevitable for workers to wear fire resistant clothes if their work involves hazards like high temperature and heat. Coveralls and bib pants are recommended garments for professionals like firefighters and manufacturing plant workers.

Most of the workplaces implement a dress code for their employees based on the nature of hazards. It is essential to a safe working environment. If your job is to deal with the risk of fire and other hazards, make sure you are well-equipped and well-trained. Remember, safety always comes first.

Coveroc best online shopping store in Edmonton. we ship or deliver best at your door. sports wear, safety wear, nomex coverall, fr clothing and etc

7 Workplace Safety Tips to Implement Today

Safe businesses are healthy businesses, so keeping your workplace safe is crucial to your team’s well-being as well as your productivity. Luckily, workplace safety isn’t rocket science. Here are 7 simple workplace safety tips that you can implement today.

1. Check for slip/fall hazards. Falls are among the most common workplace injuries. They’re also among the easiest to prevent. Using nonslip mats on slippery areas is one simple solution. Another is ensuring steps or other potential trip hazards are clearly marked. Encouraging your team to wear appropriate footwear could also keep them safe.

2. Keep fire exits clear. This may sound obvious, but all too often, the space in front of “unused” fire doors gets co-opted for storage. This is fine until that fateful day you actually need to get out through that door. So don’t fall for this temptation. Keep fire exits clear and clearly marked.

3. Implement regular housekeeping. Prevent stuff from occupying space it shouldn’t by regularly eliminating clutter. This means making a commitment to regular housekeeping. Make it a habit to quickly dispose of unneeded items, such as broken equipment or empty shipping boxes. Such objects often become trip hazards or fire hazards if allowed to accumulate. Setting up a regular cleaning schedule (which in some workplaces, can be a rotating chore list for team members) will ensure your workplace stays orderly.

4. Promote a culture of safety. The most important factor in workplace safety is the human factor. Make sure your team knows you put safety first. Encourage commonsense safety practices, such as driving at sensible speeds.

5. Cultivate a healthy workplace. Team members who go to work tired or sick may pride themselves on their grit, but dozing off while driving or operating heavy equipment properly can lead to serious accidents. Workplace health programs can teach your team easy self-care strategies while reducing your accident risk.

6. Regularly inspect protective gear and personal equipment. Protective gear, such as welder’s goggles or safety harnesses, are your team’s first line of defense against workplace hazards. But even the best gear can wear out over time. Make sure everyone’s safety gear is regularly inspected. Also, don’t hesitate to replace any items that are past their prime. The safety of your team may depend on it.

7. Have written safety standards in place. Smart managers know nothing gets done if it’s not in writing. Make sure to put your safety standards in writing, and ensure everyone on your team is familiar with them. Written standards also remind your team that workplace safety should be a priority.

Partnering with a Professional Employer Organization (PEO) is an easy way to ensure your team stays safe. By acting as your combined payroll and human resources department, a PEO company helps you develop practical workplace policies. It also ensures you’re in compliance with current OSHA regulations.

Since 2001, our company has matched businesses to the best PEOs in the industry. Call us today to learn more about how a PEO can help your business.

How To Carry Out An Effective Ariel Tree Rescue

The Rescue Operation

This article covers the safe working practices to be used by those involved in aerial tree rescue, a minimum of two people should be present during all tree-climbing operations. One of the ground team must be available, competent and equipped to perform an aerial rescue without delay. Ensure a designated and responsible person knows the daily work programme and agree with them a suitable contact procedure. Where reasonably practicable, use a two-way radio or mobile phone and a pre-arranged call-in system. This is particularly important for remote sites where a check on the operator’s safety is important.

Before the rescue

The worksite

As part of the risk assessment, the worksite and planned operation must be evaluated to establish the necessary emergency procedures for recovery and evacuation of casualties. All operators on site should have received adequate instruction and information and be trained in these procedures. When an injured climber needs rescuing, ensure all possible precautions are taken to safeguard other members of the work team and any other people entering or approaching the worksite. If overhead cables are involved, do not approach the work area. Stop work, assess the situation and contact the relevant electricity company. Ensure no unauthorised people are within the work area.

The casualty

The casualty’s condition must be assessed. If necessary, call for the emergency services before starting the rescue, making sure you give appropriate information about the location of the site and any particular access problems. You will need to provide personal details about the casualty (names and any relevant medical history etc), as well as the approximate time of the accident, treatment given and any chemicals involved.

Rescue equipment

The following rescue equipment needs to be available at the worksite:

  • A suitable first-aid kit.
  • A suitable climber’s harness and associated equipment, eg ropes, strops, karabiners or any other equipment that the rescuer is familiar with to help their rescue technique.
  • Other items of equipment necessary for a rescuer to climb effectively, eg a ladder, climbing irons, ascenders or descenders.
  • A sharp knife with a retractable blade for cutting ropes etc. There is a risk of recoil when cutting ropes under tension, or cutting the wrong rope, as well as cut injuries to the rescuer or casualty. Consider other techniques for removing a casualty from a tensioned line.

Send for any additional rescue equipment that becomes necessary but is not available at the rescue site. If appropriate, other people in the vicinity may be directed to provide help.

The rescue

Helping the casualty

Reassure the casualty and encourage self-help whenever possible. Select a rescue method that does not put the rescuer at risk and minimises the risk of further injury to the casualty. Only trained operators should use equipment such as mobile elevated work platforms and cranes for an aerial tree rescue. Climbing to the casualty

Select an efficient method of climbing the tree to reach the casualty as quickly as possible.

If specialised climbing aids are available and rescue personnel are trained in their use, use them to speed up access to the casualty. Take account of hazards such as severed, broken or hanging branches, or the casualty’s equipment, that may create a risk.

Assess the tree(s) and select appropriate equipment to remove parts of the tree(s) that would impede the rescue operation. Other operators may do this if needed. Use other personnel, if available, to prepare the equipment ready for use in the tree(s). Make the area safe from immediate hazards as soon as possible. Assess the casualty’s condition and prioritise first-aid treatment. In some cases, especially those involving fracture, crush or possible spinal injury, only move the casualty under medical supervision (eg a paramedic or the ambulance service).

Descending with the casualty

The rescuer needs to maintain close contact with the casualty to monitor changes in condition and to calm and control them if necessary. Rescuers should be properly anchored at all times to ensure their own safety throughout the rescue operation. Anchor points must be selected to ensure they are capable of taking the anticipated loads during the rescue. The rescuer and casualty need to descend together to ease movement through the branches and to monitor the casualty’s condition. Densely branched trees may require alternative methods of rescue. Obstacles on the ground may dictate the most suitable method.

Completing the rescue

Continue to help the casualty under the direction of paramedics until the casualty is transported from the site. Ensure the site is safe and secure before all personnel leave. Note the contact details of any witnesses. Where possible, take photographs of the site. Do not use any of the equipment involved in the incident until it has been thoroughly examined by a competent person. Notify management of the incident and record the occurrence in the accident book.

The Dangers Of Overhead Power Lines Best Practices


Every year people at work are killed or seriously injured when they come into contact with live overhead electricity power lines. These incidents often involve:

  • machinery, eg cranes, lorry-loader cranes, combine harvesters, and tipping trailers;
  • equipment, eg scaffold tubes and ladders;
  • work activities, eg loading, unloading, lifting, spraying, and stacking.

If a machine, scaffold tube, ladder, or even a jet of water touches or gets too close to an overhead wire, then electricity will be conducted to earth. This can cause a fire or explosion and electric shock and burn injuries to anyone touching the machine or equipment. An overhead wire does not need to be touched to cause serious injury or death as electricity can jump, or arc, across small gaps.

One of the biggest problems is that people simply do not notice overhead lines when they are tired, rushing or cutting corners. They can be difficult to spot, eg in foggy or dull conditions, when they blend into the surroundings at the edge of woodland, or when they are running parallel to, or under, other lines. Always assume that a power line is live unless and until the owner of the line has confirmed that it is dead. This guidance is for people who may be planning to work near overhead lines

where there is a risk of contact with the wires, and describes the steps you should take to prevent contact with them. It is primarily aimed at employers and employees who are supervising or in control of work near live overhead lines, but it will also be useful for those who are carrying out the work.

Types of overhead power lines

Most overhead lines have wires supported on metal towers/pylons or wooden poles – they are often called ‘transmission lines’ or ‘distribution lines’. Most high-voltage overhead lines, ie greater than 1000 V (1000 V = 1 kV) have wires that are bare and uninsulated but some have wires with a light plastic covering or coating. All high-voltage lines should be treated as though they are uninsulated. While many low-voltage overhead lines (ie less than 1 kV) have bare uninsulated wires, some have wires covered with insulating material. However, this insulation can sometimes be in poor condition or, with some older lines, it may not act as effective insulation; in these cases you should treat the line in the same way as an uninsulated line. If in any doubt, you should take a precautionary approach and consult the owner of the line.

There is a legal minimum height for overhead lines which varies according to the voltage carried. Generally, the higher the voltage, the higher the wires will need to be above ground. Equipment such as transformers and fuses attached to wooden poles and other types of supports will often be below these heights. There are also recommended minimum clearances published by the Energy Networks Association.

What does the law require?

The law requires that work may be carried out in close proximity to live overhead lines only when there is no alternative and only when the risks are acceptable and can be properly controlled. You should use this guidance to prepare a risk assessment that is specific to the site. Businesses and employees who work near to an overhead line must manage the risks. Overhead line owners have a duty to minimise the risks from their lines and, when consulted, advise others on how to control the risks. The line owner will usually be an electricity company, known as a transmission or distribution network operator, but could also be another type of organisation, eg Network Rail, or a local owner, eg the operator of a caravan park.

Preventing overhead line contact

Good management, planning and consultation with interested parties before and during any work close to overhead lines will reduce the risk of accidents. This applies whatever type of work is being planned or undertaken, even if the work is temporary or of short duration. You should manage the risks if you intend to work within a distance of 10 m, measured at ground level horizontally from below the nearest wire.

Remove the risk, the most effective way to prevent contact with overhead lines is by not carrying out work where there is a risk of contact with, or close approach to, the wires. Avoiding danger from overhead power lines. If you cannot avoid working near an overhead line and there is a risk of contact or close approach to the wires, you should consult its owner to find out if the line can be permanently diverted away from the work area or replaced with underground cables. This will often be inappropriate for infrequent, short-duration or transitory work. If this cannot be done and there remains a risk of contact or close approach to the wires, find out if the overhead line can be temporarily switched off while the work is being done. The owner of the line will need time to consider and act upon these types of requests and may levy a charge for any work done.

Risk control

If the overhead line cannot be diverted or switched off, and there is no alternative to carrying out the work near it, you will need to think about how the work can be done safely. If it cannot be done safely, it should not be done at all. Your site-specific risk assessment will inform the decision. Things to consider as part of your risk assessment include:

  • the voltage and height above ground of the wires. Their height should be measured by a suitably trained person using non-contact measuring devices;
  • the nature of the work and whether it will be carried out close to or underneath the overhead line, including whether access is needed underneath the wires;
  • the size and reach of any machinery or equipment to be used near the overhead line;
  • the safe clearance distance needed between the wires and the machinery or equipment and any structures being erected. If in any doubt, the overhead line’s owner will be able to advise you on safe clearance distances;the site conditions, eg undulating terrain may affect stability of plant etc;
  • the competence, supervision and training of people working at the site.

If the line can only be switched off for short periods, schedule the passage of tall plant and, as far as is possible, other work around the line for those times. Do not store or stack items so close to overhead lines that the safety clearances can be infringed by people standing on them.

Working near but not underneath overhead lines – the use of barriers. Where there will be no work or passage of machinery or equipment under the line, you can reduce the risk of accidental contact by erecting ground-level barriers to establish a safety zone to keep people and machinery away from the wires. This area should not be used to store materials or machinery. Suitable barriers can be constructed out of large steel drums filled with rubble, concrete blocks, wire fence earthed at both ends, or earth banks marked with posts.

  • If steel drums are used, highlight them by painting them with, for example, red and white horizontal stripes.
  • If a wire fence is used, put red and white flags on the fence wire.
  • Make sure the barriers can be seen at night, perhaps by using white or fluorescent paint or attaching reflective strips.

Avoiding danger from overhead power lines

The safety zone should extend 6 m horizontally from the nearest wire on either side of the overhead line. You may need to increase this width on the advice of the line owner or to allow for the possibility of a jib or other moving part encroaching into the safety zone. It may be possible to reduce the width of the safety zone but you will need to make sure that there is no possibility of encroachment into the safe clearance distances in your risk assessment.

Where plant such as a crane is operating in the area, additional high-level indication should be erected to warn the operators. A line of coloured plastic flags or ‘bunting’ mounted 3-6 m above ground level over the barriers is suitable. Take care when erecting bunting and flags to avoid contact or approach near the wires. Passing underneath overhead lines, if equipment or machinery capable of breaching the safety clearance distance has to pass underneath the overhead line, you will need to create a passageway through the barriers, In this situation:

  • keep the number of passageways to a minimum;
  • define the route of the passageway using fences and erect goalposts at each end to act as gateways using a rigid, non-conducting material, eg timber or plastic pipe, for the goalposts, highlighted with, for example, red and white stripes;
  • if the passageway is too wide to be spanned by a rigid non-conducting goalpost, you may have to use tensioned steel wire, earthed at each end, or plastic ropes with bunting attached. These should be positioned further away from the overhead line to prevent them being stretched and the safety clearances being reduced by plant moving towards the line;
  • ensure the surface of the passageway is levelled, formed-up and well maintained to prevent undue tilting or bouncing of the equipment;
  • put warning notices at either side of the passageway, on or near the goalposts and on approaches to the crossing giving the crossbar clearance height and instructing drivers to lower jibs, booms, tipper bodies etc and to keep below this height while crossing;
  • you may need to illuminate the notices and crossbar at night, or in poor weather conditions, to make sure they are visible;
  • make sure that the barriers and goalposts are maintained.

Avoiding danger from overhead power lines

On a construction site, the use of goalpost-controlled crossing points will generally apply to all plant movements under the overhead line. Working underneath overhead lines. Where work has to be carried out close to or underneath overhead lines, eg road works, pipe laying, grass cutting, farming, and erection of structures, and there is no risk of accidental contact or safe clearance distances being breached, no further precautionary measures are required. However, your risk assessment must take into account any situations that could lead to danger from the overhead wires. For example, consider whether someone may need to stand on top of a machine or scaffold platform and lift a long item above their head, or if the combined height of a load on a low lorry breaches the safe clearance distance. If this type of situation could exist, you will need to take precautionary measures.

If you cannot avoid transitory or short-duration, ground-level work where there is a risk of contact from, for example, the upward movement of cranes or tipper trailers or people carrying tools and equipment, you should carefully assess the risks and precautionary measures. Find out if the overhead line can be switched off for the duration of the work. If this cannot be done:

  • refer to the Energy Networks Association (ENA) publication Look Out Look Up! A Guide to the Safe Use of Mechanical Plant in the Vicinity of Electricity Overhead Lines.2 This advises establishing exclusion zones around the line and any other equipment that may be fitted to the pole or pylon. The minimum extent of these zones varies according to the voltage of the line, as follows:
    – low-voltage line – 1 m;
    – 11 kV and 33 kV lines – 3 m;
    – 132 kV line – 6 m;
    – 275 kV and 400 kV lines – 7 m;
  • under no circumstances must any part of plant or equipment such as ladders, poles and hand tools be able to encroach within these zones. Allow for uncertainty in measuring the distances and for the possibility of unexpected movement of the equipment due, for example, to wind conditions;
  • carry long objects horizontally and close to the ground and position vehicles so that no part can reach into the exclusion zone, even when fully extended. Machinery such as cranes and excavators should be modified by adding physical restraints to prevent them reaching into the exclusion zone. Note that insulating guards and/or proximity warning devices fitted to the plant without other safety precautions are not adequate protection on their own;
  • make sure that workers, including any contractors, understand the risks and are provided with instructions about the risk prevention measures;
  • arrange for the work to be directly supervised by someone who is familiar with the risks and can make sure that the required safety precautions are observed;
  • if you are in any doubt about the use of exclusion zones or how to interpret the ENA document, you should consult the owner of the overhead line.

Where buildings or structures are to be erected close to or underneath an overhead line, the risk of contact is increased because of the higher likelihood of safety clearances being breached. This applies to the erection of permanent structures and temporary ones such as polytunnels, tents, marquees, flagpoles, rugby posts, telescopic aerials etc. In many respects these temporary structures pose a higher risk because the work frequently involves manipulating long conducting objects by hand.

Avoiding danger from overhead power lines. The overhead line owner will be able to advise on the separation between the line and structures, for example buildings using published standards such as ENA Technical Specification 43-8 Overhead Line Clearances.1 However, you will need to take precautions during the erection of the structure. Consider erecting a horizontal barrier of timber or other insulating material beneath the overhead line to form a roof over the construction area – in some cases an earthed, steel net could be used. This should be carried out only with the agreement of the overhead line owner, who may need to switch off the line temporarily for the barrier to be erected and dismantled safely.

Ideally, work should not take place close to or under an overhead line during darkness or poor visibility conditions. Dazzle from portable or vehicle lighting can obscure rather than show up power lines. Sometimes, work needs to be carried out near uninsulated low-voltage overhead wires, or near wires covered with a material that does not provide effective insulation, connected to a building. Examples of such work are window cleaning, external painting or short-term construction work. If it is not possible to re-route or have the supply turned off, the line’s owner, eg the distribution network operator, may be able to fit temporary insulating shrouds to the wires, for which a charge may be levied. People, plant and materials still need to be kept away from the lines.

Emergency procedures

If someone or something comes into contact with an overhead line, it is important that everyone involved knows what action to take to reduce the risk of anyone sustaining an electric shock or burn injuries. Key points are:

  • never touch the overhead line’s wires;
  • assume that the wires are live, even if they are not arcing or sparking, or if they
  • otherwise appear to be dead;
  • remember that, even if lines are dead, they may be switched back on either automatically after a few seconds or remotely after a few minutes or even hours if the line’s owner is not aware that their line has been damaged:
  • if you can, call the emergency services. Give them your location, tell them what has happened and that electricity wires are involved, and ask them to contact the line’s owner:
  • if you are in contact with, or close to, a damaged wire, move away as quickly as possible and stay away until the line’s owner advises that the situation has been made safe:
  • if you are in a vehicle that has touched a wire, either stay in the vehicle or, if you need to get out, jump out of it as far as you can. Do not touch the vehicle while standing on the ground. Do not return to the vehicle until it has been confirmed that it is safe to do so;

Avoiding danger from overhead power lines, be aware that if a live wire is touching the ground the area around it may be live. Keep a safe distance away from the wire or anything else it may be touching and keep others away.