Scaffolding and Power Line Safety
When working with scaffolding outdoors, the risk of contacting overhead power lines is significant.
Scaffolds can reach as high as 76 metres and are made of conductive materials — two factors that make workers highly susceptible to power line hazards.
Scaffold erectors are trained to assess their intended path for power lines before moving the structure and if power lines are in the area, notify the local utility before proceeding — but the danger doesn't end there. Workers who end up using the scaffolding once it's in place, such as carpenters, also need to take precautions to stay safe.
While scaffolds should always be labelled with inspection tags to alert other workers of any electrical hazards in the area, these tips can help you protect yourself:
- Locate all power lines before any work begins and contact your local utility if you'll be required to work within 7 metres of overhead power lines
- Make sure the scaffold is properly grounded
- Consider using personal protective equipment (PPE) such as insulating gloves, rubber-soled boots and rubber insulating mats to stand on
- Eliminate the electric charge on a load that’s being hoisted by applying grounding cables
- Remove flammable materials from the immediate work area
Learn more about Alberta's Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) guidelines for working with scaffolds.