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Still Knocking Over Live Lines?

Description for Noggin INC511 31/10/17 – During mechanised felling a tree snapped off the stump and fell over live power lines leaving the live lines across a public road.

Investigation – PF Olsen has a robust guidance (Safe Op – Working Near Live Power Lines). When followed, it provides a safe outcome for work around live power lines.  In this incident, some parts of the Safe Op were not applied, and one small part was misapplied, as follows:

  •         Inadequate warning system – the fall hazard zone (FHZ) had not been marked.
  •         The ‘Live Line’ form (linked to the Company Safe Op) had not been correctly completed.  Rather than working through the hierarchy of controls we accepted the Network Owner’s ‘Close Work Permit' as a licence to operate without all appropriate controls in place.
  •         The Safe Op directs that the FHZ distance be measured by using the height of the tallest tree not the mean tree height, as in this case.
  •         Inadequate and untimely communications with the Network Operator – meaning that the lines could not be de-livened.
  •         The operator was also operating under ‘upset conditions’ thinking about a family member.

Live power lines are a hazard with high risk of serious injury or death, and anyone working around them must follow the Safe Op!  Please also be aware that WorkSafe NZ has recently published its own guidance document – A Practice Framework and Operational Guidance².

² PF Olsen recently received a copy of this publication at a forestry group meeting and will provide a link when available.

View this article in Safety Bulletin 110