Power Line Construction Injuries: Commonplace and Often Fatal

Power lines are everywhere. They almost always line roads and have service-drop lines to all buildings and structures that use electricity. Because of their universal pervasiveness, people have become blind to them. Normally, this doesn't matter because the lines are safely out of reach. However, this isn't the case when engaged in construction activity in the Bakken oil field. Workers' failure to notice them when operating construction equipment can result in a quick death that's over before others on the scene can even respond.

Power line construction injuries are also caused by common but fatal misconceptions. For example, people mistakenly believe that the covering seen on some power lines is insulation. In reality, these are meant to protect the lines from weather and have little resistance to electricity.

Yet another misconception is the belief that you're only in danger when touching power lines. However, the voltages are sufficient for electrical arcing through the air. This is the reason for OSHA's minimum working distances from power lines. For 50,000 volts, for example, you must be at least 10 feet away from the line.

Common work situations that risk power line injuries include:

Ladders and Scaffolds

Ladders and scaffolds erected too close to power lines endanger workers who can make accidental contact with their tools. Attempting to move an extended ladder risks contact if the worker loses control or the wind blows the ladder into a power line.

Large Construction Equipment

Construction equipment such as cranes have a sufficient height to contact power lines if the operator fails to notice the danger. Other equipment with sufficient reach include boom trucks, dump trucks, drilling rigs, excavators, backhoes, concrete pumps, and aerial lifts. Drilling rigs, excavators, and backhoes can also accidentally contact underground power lines.

Improper Use of Area Beneath Power Lines

Sometimes the ground beneath power lines is used for storage because of convenience or lack of space. Placement and removal of many of the items may require heavy lifting equipment, which places the operator at risk.

Regardless of the specifics of the hazards, the construction company must train and manage its workers to ensure that power line accidents don't happen. If their failure to do this caused you to suffer a construction injury, get legal advice from the experienced lawyers at Odegaard Miller Law. Contact us for a free case evaluation.