Mobile Crane Safety Operations When Working Near Overhead Electric Lines

29 March 2022

Even though project site assessments have been carried out before crane operations, some mobile cranes might still get into contact with energised overhead electric lines. The interaction of cranes and these lines could happen since crane operators can have some difficulties spotting the lines from their place. Even plant operators may overlook the electric lines.

Once crane components touch a portion of these lines, operators and other people on-site may get electric shocks and other similar injuries. Some may even die.

Approach Distances and Work Zones

Given the risks of working near overhead electric lines, contractors should identify the safe approach distances and work zones of their project site. Knowing these elements can help in pinpointing the movement of the cranes. Doing this can help people know if they can enter a specific site or not.

There are three work zones that contractors should know about.

  1. Zone A: Zone A includes areas and places that are far from overhead electric lines. This is the preferred zone for people who are untrained and unauthorised to work under utility lines. It can also cater to workers who have not acquired proper training in overhead line electrical hazards.
  2. Zone B: Zone B is comprised of areas that surround the electric lines of Zone C. Workers can only enter Zone B if they have acquired a recognised training course in overhead line electrical hazards.
  3. Zone C: Zone C consists of areas and places that cannot be accessed by unauthorised workers and people. Places that are part of Zone C should only be accessibly by electrical suppliers. Those who are planning to enter this zone must also seek approval from governing bodies.

Control Measures for Mobile Cranes

To ensure safe mobile crane operations, contractors can utilise the hierarchy of control. It is a system designed to control risks in a given workplace. Here are the five levels of the hierarchy of controls and some examples of control measures under each level.

  1. Substitution: This level aims to replace risk with lesser risk. One control measure under substitution is to set up the mobile crane in a place that retains the design envelope beyond the approach distance. Another control measure under this level is to use an alternative plant.
  2. Isolation: This level aims to isolate people from the risk. Installing a non-conductive barrier around the unsafe zone can be done to prevent people and the crane from entering the dangerous area.
  3. Engineering: This level aims to reduce risks by applying changes to work systems. Some control measures under this level include limiting the movement of the crane, increasing clearances of the load movement, and fitting proximity sensors around the unsafe zone.
  4. Administrative: This level aims to minimise hazards exposure. Making the hazards more visible and defining areas where the crane must not enter can be done under this level.
  5. Personal Protective Equipment: This level aims to protect the worker with Personal Protective Equipment. Workers must wear insulated gloves during crane operations. They must also stand on a rubber insulating mat to avoid electric-related injuries.

To know more about mobile cranes, you can call us at Sharp Welding and Crane Hire.

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