There are a lot of things to protect when working—namely the lives of you and your coworkers, environment and property.
Blind backing is never a good idea. The importance of a guide is paramount whether you’re working during the day or night.
When it comes to Utilities we take the function of a guide one step further and assign a spotter to not only to direct the driver, but to also look out for everyone else working nearby.
If there is no spotter available: Before any backing movements the driver must stop, exit their vehicle and assess the path of travel (many times if required).
A driver doesn’t always have a full view of their backing path. All vehicles and equipment need a guide and should not back up without one. It sounds like an easy enough approach to remember, but a little refresher course can’t hurt.
When acting as a guide it’s vital to be aware of all surroundings. When passing behind a vehicle, stop first to make sure the driver knows you’re there. Make eye contact with the driver directly or through the mirrors. It’s necessary to go over your hand signals with the driver beforehand. When directing the driver, stand at the rear of the vehicle but off to the driver’s side slightly, so you have a clear view of the entire backing path and also so the driver has a clear view of you. Always be sure that you can be seen obviously. Wear a fluorescent vest with reflective strips to be seen both during day and night.
Guidelines from the Alberta Electricity Utilities Commission (AEUC) tells us that activities being carried out near high voltage power infrastructure and near the safe limits of approach, require a designated individual to act as an observer or spotter to ensure safe limits of approach distances are maintained.
If you need to work any closer than seven metres near a power line, you must contact your electrical utility who will work with you to implement controls and instruct you on any revised working distances. Alberta law requires you to have a spotter on the ground to assist in identifying hazards and safe limits of approach, and also, when work is being done around overhead power lines and ensuring that the work or equipment is kept away from the lines at the appropriate distances. This spotter may also be referred to as an observer.
Being prepared, dressing appropriately, and knowing proper communication between guides, spotters and drivers results in less incidents and a safer workplace. Do your part to protect yourself and your coworkers.