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IPAF and NCCCO Team Up to Promote Safe Working Distances Near Power Lines| Construction News

IPAF and NCCCO Team Up to Promote Safe Working Distances Near Power Lines| Construction News
IPAF and NCCCO Team Up to Promote Safe Working Distances Near Power Lines| Construction News
IPAF and NCCCO Team Up to Promote Safe Working Distances Near Power Lines| Construction News
IPAF and NCCCO Team Up to Promote Safe Working Distances Near Power Lines| Construction News

The International Powered Access Federation (IPAF) and National Commission for the Certification of Crane Operators (NCCCO) teamed up at ConExpo 2014 to educate aerial work platform (AWP) and crane operators about safe working distances when working near power lines, as electrocutions are one of the most prevalent causes of AWP-related fatalities, and account for the majority of crane-related fatalities.

IPAF recommends a safe distance from power lines is 50 ft. plus a fully extended boom from electrical pylons, and 30 ft. plus a fully extended boom from cables on wooden poles. The recommendations that meet or exceed ANSI and OSHA requirements were demonstrated at the Lift Safety Zone at the show.

Tony Groat, IPAF North America manager, explained: “Operators or supervisors are often not in a position to know the voltage in the power source. Knowing the voltage is essential to determine the minimum approach distance, which is the safest distance a person who has not had specific training in avoiding electrical hazards should approach ‘live’ overhead cables. The IPAF recommendations are safe distances until the voltage is determined. It is possible to work closer to power lines than the IPAF-recommended safe distances, but this should only be undertaken after seeking expert advice from the power supplier and implementing extra safety precautions.”

Graham Brent, executive director of NCCCO commented on how the new crane rule (29 CFR 1926 Subpart CC), published in 2010, actually gave crane operators greater flexibility when working around power lines, which came with additional requirements that were not initially clear. Brent indicated that the confusion was evident with the drop in correctly answered questions on the CCO certification exams after the rule was published.

“NCCCO’s exams were all updated to reflect the rule change, but any operator relying on knowledge received prior to then, or upon a training program that had not been revised, often ran into trouble on the tests,” explained Brent. He went on to explain that such situations underscore the importance of the role professionally developed, ANSI accredited certification plays in reducing accidents/injuries and why recertification is vital.

Attention was drawn to two new training videos designed to prepare candidates for the CCO certification exams—“Prevent Electrocutions: Work Safely with Cranes near Power Lines” from OSHA, and “Operating Cranes around Power Lines” from the Specialized Carriers & Rigging Association (SC&RA).

Chris Wraith, IPAF technical officer, commenting on data received through the organization's accident reporting process and Powered Access Rental Market Reports, said: “In 2013, all seven reported cases of electrocution worldwide occurred in the U.S., where the AWP rental fleet is estimated at 510,500, which is 54% of the world rental fleet. AWPs are probably the safest way of doing temporary work at height, so the onus is on managers and operators to stay safe when working near to power lines/conductors. Electrocutions can be prevented – through proper planning, risk assessment and management of work at height, including thorough operator training and familiarization.”

IPAF’s accident reporting project encourages reporting of AWP-related accidents in order to capture, measure, and ultimately better manage the use of the equipment. The 2014 reports for both the accident reporting project and the IPAF Powered Access Rental Market Reports are set to be published in April and can be pre-ordered at www.ipaf.org/reports

The OSHA video for the cranes working near power lines is available by free download on OSHA's website, and the video from SC&RA is available, which is a 19 minute DVD accompanied by a 40-page booklet is available from the association. 

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