Thursday, August 8, 2013



On a construction site highway project, concreting is going at a certain level, pouring concrete on the final layer of a box culvert wall. The operator of the remote control failed to take into account that he was operating directly underneath a 33kV electrical overhead power lines while moving the boom of the concrete pump. As he elevated the boom it came into direct physical contact with the power line. As a direct result the worker who was supporting the hose was electrocuted.

The failure of this incident are very wide and range. It appears there was NO safe system of work in place for this highly hazardous activity. NO measures have been taken to highlight the presence of the power lines and their limitations to the works. Despite of so many workers were in that area at that time, nobody have seen the power lines??? Someone have seen the power lines but failed to address the hazards. this indicates an entirely negative safety culture. There is a need to raise awareness at all levels in the organization and to ensure that all persons are well trained in health, safety and environment measures needed in respect of each task.

  1. Failure to plan the work and identify the risks associated with working under live overhead power lines.
  2. A collective failure on the part of all workers in the vicinity at the time of the accident to recognize a dangerous situation arising.
  3. Absence of supervision by a competent person during the course of the work.
  4. A failure to put a goalpost in place to restrict the height to which the boom could be raised or a warning label/noticed.
  • A full and suitable risk assessment of operations under live overhead lines is to be carried out.
  • All personnel are to be full briefed on the dangers of working underneath electric power lines and precautions must be followed and what has to be done in the event of emergency or accident.
  • These operations are supervised by a competent person.
  • Minimum clearances in respect of each voltage must be established and goal posts and barriers put in place as appropriate.
SPECIFIC CONTROLS Required in respect of operations:
  1. Assume that all overhead power lines are "LIVE".
  2. Establish maximum height & vertical reach of all plant and machinery.
  3. Ensure that the maximum working height for working under each span of overhead lines is made known to all operatives. The minimum clearance for plant & equipment operating under voltages of up to 33kV is 5.2 meters.
  4. If the work is to be undertaken over a long period of time it may be advisable to consult with the service provider and arrange for overhead power lines to be diverted for the duration of the works.
  5. Erect goalposts and barriers to ensure that plant & equipment are restricted to a safe height.

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