The Safe Use of MEWPs in The Vicinity of Power Lines
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International Powered Access Federation (IPAF) collates incident reports received from around the world, from companies, individuals and IPAF members who share their experiences to allow others to work safer. By analyzing the data, it is evident incidents involving electrocutions and electric shocks have notably increased since 2015, the standout statistic is that reported incidents of electrocution are nearly always fatal.
Working in the vicinity of energized power lines can expose workers to health and safety risks including death by electrocution or electric shock.
If a Mobile Elevating Work Platform (MEWP) or platform occupant contacts energized power lines it can cause instant death, electric shock or other injuries caused directly or indirectly by electricity. Electrocution or electric shock can also occur by arcing or flashover from power lines. This can happen when exclusion zones are breached causing arcing to occur, the risk of arcing increases as the power line voltage increases.
We generally think of power lines being overhead and, for the large part they are. However, accident data indicates that often they can sometimes be beneath, for example, if we are working above the power line or to the side of it.
Working amongst dense vegetation/trees can often hide or obscure power lines.
Workplace safety culture and behavior can play a big part in reducing the number of incidents. Ignorance or lack of awareness can lead to complacency and potential exposures, which in turn increases the risk of incidents occurring from contact or arcing with power lines.
This guidance is intended to:
- Provide information for those who plan and manage MEWP operations.
- Provide information on the main causes of electrocutions with power lines.
- Raise awareness to the hazards and risks in working in close proximity to power lines.
- Provide information on the industry sectors where electrocutions and electric shocks occur.
- Identify risk control measures and Safe System of Work (SSoW) to implement and reduce the number of incidents occurring.
- Provide general global guidance for those who undertake tasks to prevent incidents occurring.