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Keeping safe while cutting trees near electricity

Electrocution is a major cause of death among tree workers in Louisiana and throughout the country. In many cases, simple safety precautions may have saved some of these lives. For instance, whenever tree trimmers will be working around live, high voltage overhead conductors, it is a good idea if their employers request the power company to de-energize their power lines. Otherwise, tree trimmers should wear personal protective equipment and clothing, such as rubber insulated gloves, hoods and sleeves, to keep them safe from electrical hazards and always stay at least 10 feet away from power lines.

However, if the voltage to ground is more than 50kV, additional distance is necessary. Further, because electricity can travel through the ground, tree trimmers should wear protective insulated footwear and refrain from standing near grounding elements.

These safety precautions may have saved the life of a 26-year-old landscaper who died after the pole he was using to trim tree branches touched some overhead energized power lines. When the accident occurred, there were no supervisors or co-workers on site.

Tree trimmers and their employers or supervisors should also look for hazards before the work begins, and each worker should be fully aware of those hazards via training. An emergency plan should also be in place in the event of an accident. Even a tool or a tree limb coming in contact with a live power line can cause an electrocution. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration requires fall protection for climbers as well.

Most Louisiana employers are required to carry workers' compensation coverage for their employees. An attorney can outline the benefits that might be available to surviving family members when a fatal workplace accident occurs.

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