Carter Craig, Attorneys at Law

Regulators issue safety reminders after power line accident

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Running heavy equipment or making installations near power lines in Virginia presents workers with electrocution and fire hazards. After a tractor-trailer dumped a load of gravel near a power line and broke a ground wire holding a pole, the Mine Safety and Health Administration issued a "close call alert" outlining best practices when working near electrical transmission lines.

Although no one was injured in the accident, the deadly potential was clear when the 13,800-volt wires arced and tripped the power. To avoid such disasters, the agency emphasized the need to shut down power to lines when workers run equipment within 10 feet of power lines. Safety also begins with an assessment of the work area. Workers should know the exact location of power lines and make a plan to avoid coming in contact with them. Regulators recommend communicating with the local utility before starting work.

If an accident does occur, an operator should jump from the cab of equipment that erupts into fire after contact with live wires. The person should not touch the equipment and the ground at the same time. When a line touches equipment but no fire starts, then the worker should remain inside until the power can be shut off.

Sometimes even vigilant operators experience an accident on the job and suffer injuries. Most employers are required to carry workers' compensation insurance coverage to provide benefits to injured employees. If a claim is filed but denied by the employer, an attorney could be of assistance in a subsequent appeal.

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