Know your No Go Zones, Look up and Live

By on November 18, 2020

Unfortunately it is not uncommon for Truck Bodies, Excavators Booms, Concrete Pump Booms, Elevated Work Platforms and Cranes to come into contact with Overhead Power Lines.

These incidents have the potential to result in a range of serious consequences such as burns, fires, explosions, property and equipment damage, disruption of electrical supply to the surrounding community, electric shock or electrocution.

What happens if overhead powerlines are contacted?

  • The machinery or vehicle will become ‘live‘ at the same voltage as the power lines contacted
  • The electrical current shall attempt to pass through the machinery or vehicle or occupant to the ground
  • Anything else in contact with the powerlines will also become ‘live‘, such as fences and trees
  • A potentially dangerous electrical field will be created around anything in contact with the powerlines. This field extends for approximately 8 metres around these items.
  • The powerline may break, fall to the ground, or make contact with other vehicles, metal fences, buildings or puddles of water and damp ground

You don’t have to have a direct contact with an overhead power line to receive a fatal electric shock, e.g. electrocution, simply being too close can kill.

Within the Quarry these incidents are clearly preventable by following the Hierarchy of Controls:

  • Areas below overhead power lines should be physically isolated where practicable from trucks and mobile equipment operations through earth bunding, fencing or other means.

The objective is to ensure access to the proximity of the NO GO ZONE is eliminated.

  • Where not practicable the presence of the powerlines must be clearly highlighted through signage, tiger tails, high visibility bollards or other means.
  • The site Traffic Management Plan must clearly highlight the presence of power lines
  • The site Traffic Rules and Safe Work Procedures/Method Statements must prohibit the access to and elevation of truck bodies, excavator/crane booms within the proximity of powerlines.
  • All workers, cartage and maintenance contractors must be inducted to the Traffic Management Plan, Traffic Rules andSafe Work Procedures/Method Statements

The objective is to ensure any activity involving elevation of truck bodies, excavator/crane booms is not conducted anywhere within the proximity of the NO GO ZONE.

On customer sites these incidents are preventable by knowing your NO GO ZONES and the associated rules:

All drivers and cartage contractors should be made aware of the NO GO ZONES and associated rules through inductions, Safe Work Procedures/Method Statements, training, tool box talks, posters in lunchrooms and stickers within trucks and mobile equipment cabins.

All drivers and cartage contractors should be aware that:

  • Where the work is within 3m to 6.4m of overhead powerlines and 8m to 10m of transmission tower lines and the truck is not intended to enter the NO GO ZONE, an Energy Safe Victoria (ESV) registered spotter must be used to observe and signal to the driver to stop the truck before it enters the NO GO ZONE
  • Where the truck is intended, or likely, to come within the NO GO ZONE a Permit to Work from the asset owner must be obtained prior to works commencing.

All drivers and cartage contractors should be encouraged to refuse to work where these requirements are not being met and contact the Weighbridge Operator or Quarry Manager to seek further advice.

Quarry Managers and Sales Representatives must be aware of these requirements prior to conducting customer site risk assessments and then communicate these requirements to drivers and cartage contractors.

Refer to: Guidebook – WorkSAFE Victoria, Using Powered Mobile Plant near Overhead Assets. Edition 1 May 2018.

Emergency Response to Contact with Overhead Powerlines:

All drivers and cartage contractors should be made aware of the following procedure as listed in the CMPA’s soon to be released Critical Incident Response Template.

  • You should sit still and remain calm not touching the vehicle cabin
  • If possible radio or phone for help, Contact Emergency Services
  • If safe, turn off or disconnect the power supply (within quarry) or contact the electricity supply company (on site)
  • If you cannot turn off the power and it is safe, the driver should stay in the vehicle
  • If possible, you should attempt to drive the vehicle away from the power lines for at least 8 meters
  • If escape from the vehicle is absolutely necessary, it is critical that you jump clear ensuring no contact with the vehicle and ground is made at at the same time
  • When jumping, ensure that you land with your feet together and if required, take another one or two jumps with your feet still together, ensuring that you do not touch the vehicle, fall forward or backwards or allow your feet to step apart
  • You must jump/shuffle with your feet together until you are at least 8 metres clear of the vehicle, power lines or anything else in contact with them. Avoid being in the line of fire with the side of the tyres/rims as they may explode
  • Barricade or block off the area around the vehicle to protect others
  • Be particularly aware of the risk of tyre explosion and if needed leave the vehicle standing for 24 hours before moving it

Written by David McKelvie, Director of Safe Mix, a WHS consultancy that specialises is supporting the Construction Materials Industry in Victoria.

If you require WHS support, contact David on 0407 022 117 or email
Alternately visit my website (CMPA Member since 2004)

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