Monday, January 17, 2011

Deconstructing OSHA Crane Standards, Pt. 3 1926.1400

A few weeks ago, I posted a couple of articles about the Construction Crane Standards that went into effect in November of 2010. I would like to address one more important change that is included in the update; the new requirements for working around power lines.

The basic requirement before the change was that workers had to stay at least ten feet away from energized overhead electrical lines. This proved over the years to not always be sufficient, so the new standard has some different requirements. First, the competent person has to evaluate the jobsite and determine if any part of the equipment, load line, or load can come within 20 feet of a power line. If so, then there are three options for controlling the hazard that may be exercised.

Option one is the simplest where practical, and provides the most protection. The employer simply confirms with the utility owner or operator that the conductors have been deenergized, and visibly grounded at the jobsite. Requirements for uninterrupted electricity may preclude this solution.

Option two is to ensure that no part of the assembly comes within 20 feet of the line. This will also require ‘encroachment prevention procedures’ outlined in the standard. These procedures will require a planning meeting with all employees on the jobsite, nonconductive tag lines, and at least one other prevention measure. The additional measure may include spotters, proximity alarms, or elevated warning lines. Consult the OSHA Standards for clarification, and a Safety Consultant or industry organization if you still have questions.

Option three allows the employer to determine the voltage the power lines are operating at, then consult a table published in the standard to determine the appropriate clearance to maintain from the equipment. Voltages over 350kV will require more than 20 feet of clearance. Option three also requires the additional encroachment prevention procedures as option two.

The standard also requires training for all employees that may be exposed to these hazards, and like most of the training required by OSHA, it must be provided by the employer at no charge, and before the work actually commences. Documentation of the training is a good idea, too.

Ensuring that equipment stays clear of energized power lines on any jobsite should, obviously, be a priority, and complying with the new requirements in the OSHA Construction Crane Standard is one more tool employers have to protect worker safety.


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