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Importance of a Spotter

Backing trailers, trucks and other heavy equipment is one of the most dangerous maneuvers operators can perform — especially when overhead power lines and other utility infrastructure is involved. A spotter could save your life.

While it may seem like a simple maneuver, blind backing puts everyone on your worksite in harm's way by increasing the risk of a power line incident.

In fact, Alberta law requires you to have a spotter on the ground to assist in identifying hazards and safe limits of approach.

When equipment makes contact with a power line not only is the operator at risk, but also any workers standing in the surrounding area. When the electrical current flows through the equipment and into the ground, the voltage will be highest close to the equipment and "ripples" outward, energizing anything touching it.

Remember these tips for spotting safely on the worksite:

  • Before operating any equipment, be sure to evaluate the surrounding area for potential hazards and plan a route that keeps your equipment at least 7 metres away from overhead power lines
  • Go over your hand signals so that you can communicate clearly with the operator. Relying on voice commands alone can result in costly miscommunications, especially on noisy worksites
  • When directing the operator, stand at the rear of the equipment on the driver's side so that you have a clear view of the entire backing path and the operator has a clear view of you
  • When passing behind a vehicle or equipment, stop first to make sure the operator knows you’re there. Make eye contact with the operator directly or through the mirrors
  • Always ensure that you're clearly visible. Wear a fluorescent vest with reflective strips to be seen during the day and at night
  • If you need to work any closer than 7 metres, you must contact your local utility company who will work with you to implement controls and instruct you on any revised working distances

By relying on another member of your crew to help you safely navigate your equipment, you can be sure that you'll never come closer than 7 metres to an overhead power line.

Contact Map

Think power line contacts are few and far between? Think again.
Keep track of overhead and underground contacts occurring across Alberta.

The Joint Utility Safety Team (JUST) is a partnership between the following Alberta electric utilities with contributions from local municipalities, formed to address the frequency of power line contacts across the province.