As part of ongoing electric safety efforts, the Public Utility Commission Thursday urged contractors and homeowners across the state to use extra caution while working around power lines in order to avoid possible accidents, injuries and deaths.
“The fall season starts today, which means the arrival of colder weather, shorter days and an added desire by contractors and homeowners to finish their projects,” said PUC Vice Chairman Andrew G. Place. “These factors can compound the risk of accidentally contacting a power line, which can have devastating consequences any time of the year.”
According to data compiled by the PUC’s Electric Safety Division, an average of six Pennsylvania residents are killed and 24 people are seriously injured every year because of accidental contact with utility company power lines.
Roofers, crane operators and other construction workers are at the greatest risk, but homeowners working with ladders and poles generate the second-highest number of incidents.
“Statistically, fall is the second most dangerous season to be working around power lines, accounting for about 27 percent of all injuries and deaths over the last two years,” said Vice Chairman Place. “Whether you are repairing or replacing a roof, trimming trees, cleaning gutters or tackling other home or business construction, always understand electricity is unforgiving and the slightest lapse in concentration around power lines can be deadly.”
The Commission encourages anyone working around power lines – at a job-site or while making repairs around your house – to check with your local electric utility for information about making the work site safer.
Depending on the location and work being performed, electric companies may offer rubberized barriers to prevent accidental contact with lines, stringers to aid crane/boom and lift operators, or may de-energize facilities around the work zone.
“The PUC and Pennsylvania’s utilities are committed to safety, and assistance is available to make work areas near electric lines safe – but those precautions are only effective if contractors and homeowners call before beginning work,” Vice Chairman Place emphasized. “For the safety of everyone involved – from contractors and homeowners to utility company workers and bystanders, we urge anyone working near power lines to review important safety information on the ‘Electric Safety’ page of the PUC website and contact their local utility company before beginning any project.”
Additionally, the PUC also reminds homeowners and contractors of their obligation to contact the Pennsylvania One Call System (PA One Call) at least three days before starting any excavation.
PA One Call alerts all utilities within an intended digging area and prompts them to mark where the facilities are located on that property.
Pennsylvanians can dial 8-1-1 to connect with the system, while non-Pennsylvania residents can dial 1-800-242-1776.“We need to treat all utility lines with caution and respect – whether they are located overhead or underground,” Vice Chairman Place noted. “The best way to protect yourself, your co-workers, your home and your business against the possibility of death, injury, service interruptions or costly repairs is to identify hazards and develop proper safety plans before any work begins.”