Overhead Power Lines

A high proportion of accidents occur when vehicles or machinery make contact with overhead lines. If a vehicle or machine becomes “live” then anyone touching it is in mortal danger. Anyone in the cab may be in less danger but may be threatened by the vehicle or machine catching fire. The figure below shows the steps to take in the event of coming in contact with an overhead line.

contact with overhead lines 1contact with overhead lines 2contact with overhead lines 3

Personnel are at serious risk if equipment they are driving tips off an overhead line. This may happen in a number of different scenarios:

  • the equipment is high enough to reach the line while driving along in its normal configuration;
  • a trailer is tipped up, making contact with the line, rendering the entire vehicle “live”;
  • a hydraulic boom or jib, controlled from a cab, makes contact with an overhead line, e.g. a crane lifting a load;
  • a hydraulic boom, jib, pipe or conveyor, controlled by an operator in a standing position, makes contact with a line while lifting or conveying material.

Because of the height of equipment used in agriculture, farmers and those in or close to tall agricultural equipment can be at high risk in the event of a hit on an overhead line.

As a reminder to all drivers, a farmer, contractor or supplier should fit warning signs in the cabs of any equipment capable of making contact with overhead lines. These signs are available free of charge from ESB Networks (Tel. 1850 372 757) and can be fixed to the appropriate part of the equipment to remind the operator of the risks of approaching overhead lines. They also display ESB Networks Emergency Contact Number – 1850 372 999).

Typical examples of cab stickers available from ESB Networks:

electricity - danger of death signelectricity danger of death sign 2

In addition to signs, plant owners can also fit detection devices in their equipment which detects the proximity of overhead lines. These detectors give an audio and visual alarm if the equipment is approaching the danger area around an overhead line.

The HSA has approved a Code of Practice on Overhead Electricity Lines in Construction, published by ESB Networks.