With the push to recognize Industrial Scaffold Technician as a designated occupation, worksite safety has become even more critical. Scaffolds can reach as high as 76 metres and are made of conductive materials – factors that make workers susceptible to power line hazards.
“Because our primary scaffold components are steel or aluminum, they are great conductors of electricity, so we’re very cautious when we have to build near power lines,”
Working with scaffolds near power lines can result in mobile scaffolds coming into contact with energized lines, as well as construction materials swinging off scaffolds and into power lines.
Scaffold erectors are trained to review their intended path before moving rolling scaffolds. If power lines are identified in the area, they must notify their electric utility before proceeding. End users (such as electricians, carpenters) are alerted to any hazards with inspection tags (attached to the scaffold), which outline any electrical dangers in the vicinity.
“Training for scaffolding is provided at the Scaffold & Access Industry Association and the Alberta Carpenters Training Centre. Both programs emphasize safety, with modules dedicated to electrical safety. Workers are taught early on that area assessments are critical before any work can start,” Beaulieu added.
Beaulieu believes that safety in the scaffolding industry is continuously improving, “due to the diligence of the workers themselves. We are doing our part and assessing before we move or commence work.”
When working with scaffolds around power lines, remember these tips:
- Determine the location(s) of power lines when planning all work; contact
the local utility before the work begins if you will be within seven metres
of any power line
- Make sure the scaffold is properly grounded
- Eliminate the electric charge on a load that’s being hoisted by applying grounding cables or other effective means before workers contact the load
- Remove flammable materials from the immediate work area