It is inevitable that on some projects our team will work around or near powerlines. Our crane operators are trained in how to manage the risks associated with powerlines and the use of mobile cranes and other access equipment such as elevated work platforms (EWP’s). As a project manager or crane hirer, it is essential that you are also familiar with the safety procedures and protocols that our crane operators will use if your project is close to overhead powerlines and the planning process that we go through to ensure the safety of your lift.
In what situations are overhead powerlines an issue for mobile cranes?
The most common time that overhead powerlines are encountered in our work is in older suburbs where the powerlines are above ground. Other situations include:
- Residential builds, particularly in established and built-up areas
- Commercial construction
- Scaffolding alternatives
What is a safe approach distance?
A safe approach distance is the area that surrounds a live electrical apparatus that is safe to enter into by either a person or mobile plant or machinery. Electricity is not something to be cavalier about; contact with live electricity can cause serious injury and death.
There are specific protocols for working around powerlines that are determined in advance of each job called work zones.
- Zone A is the zone that untrained and unauthorised people and machinery are allowed to operate in. It is the zone that is considered safe.
- Zone B is the area directly surrounding the powerlines that is outside of Zone C. Only authorised people are allowed to work in Zone B. Zone B work can only be carried out by those who have specific training in electrical hazards, an electrical spotter is used for these jobs.
- Zone C is the no go zone and is only accessed by electrical suppliers or those with specific approval from the relevant electricity supplier.
Each state and territory will have its own specific requirements when it comes to safe approach distances and work zones. More information on safe approach distances and work zones in Queensland can be found here.
How do we manage the risk of overhead powerlines?
When it comes to overhead powerlines, they are a risk that needs to be managed as it is impossible to avoid all situations where they are an issue. In most cases we can plan the lift so that the crane, it’s boom, jib or any platforms are outside of the approach distance of the powerlines. Often this may mean using a different approach or crane to the one first thought of for the job.
In some instances, we require what’s called an electrical spotter who is specifically trained to minimise the risks associated with working near powerlines. This will ensure that our crane operators are visually reminded of the risk and can stay outside of it.
Our experienced mobile crane operators also limit mechanical movement that may impinge on the exclusion zones, such as slewing. We make sure that the ground is solid and stable, and any counterweights that are needed are applied to ensure the stability of the crane.
In some situations, it may be necessary to de-energise the powerlines for the time that the mobile crane is in use, if the crane is used within the exclusion zone. This needs to be done by the electricity supplier and of course requires planning, permits and permissions.
For further information about managing the risks associated with mobile cranes and powerlines, we recommend the Safe Work Australia Guide. It contains more information and technical detail for planning projects that are near powerlines and how to manage risks.
Our team are experienced in planning and scoping lifts around powerlines. As mentioned above, we manage the risks and enact the necessary protocols to ensure the safety of both our team, plant and the project. At Lindores Mobile Cranes, we offer free site inspections and lift planning for each mobile crane hire; doing this enables us to audit any risks such as powerlines and plan the lift to minimise them.
Get in touch with the team at Lindores Mobile Cranes to talk about your next project.