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Power-line incident draws attention to potential risk

New Jersey workers may want to know about a ‘close call alert’ that was issued by the Mine Safety and Health Administration earlier in 2017. According to reports, a tractor-trailer failed to keep clear of an overhead power line during operations. Although the contact did not result in any injuries in this particular situation, it caused significant property damage and exposed at least one worker on the site to the possibility of electrocution. The recommended amount of clearance between work equipment and high-voltage power lines is 10 feet.

Following the reported incident, the MSHA published a list of best practices that might ultimately protect workers from serious injury or death. In addition to maintaining the recommended amount of clearance, these practices include having an awareness that some equipment may have a high profile during transport and planning a route for such equipment that avoids the presence of any high-voltage lines. Power lines should be de-energized before work is performed within the recommended clearance zone.

If a rig comes into contact with live high-voltage lines, the agency says that its operator should remain inside the equipment until officials have disconnected the power. In the event of a fire, workers should exit the equipment immediately while being careful to avoid simultaneous contact with the rig and the ground.

In this case, contact with one wire caused a ground wire on an adjacent pole to snap. As a result, 13,800-volt wires arced and tripped the power. Although no injuries were reported this time, New Jersey employees who find themselves seriously hurt as the result of an accident on the job may want to file a workers’ compensation claim. An attorney can often be of assistance in this regard.