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Keeping Louisiana miners safe from electric lines

Employees who work near live wires, especially wires that carry high volts of power, can get severely injured or killed if their equipment comes in contact with the lines. For this reason, it's wise for those who work around overhead power lines to make sure there is at least 10 feet of clearance between the lines and their equipment.

Following an accident involving a tractor-trailer and an energized 13,800-volt ground wire, the Mine Safety and Health Administration issued a close call alert. The occupational accident happened when a tractor-trailer ran into a power line, causing damage to an adjoining power pole's 13,800-volt ground wire, which arced and tripped. In its report, the MSHA said that the accident could have been fatal because of the possibility of electrocution.

In response to the workplace accident, the MSHA recommended several best practices to keep those who work around power lines safer. Besides ensuring that high-voltage power lines are turned off prior to operating nearby equipment, employees should not work closer than 10 feet from the lines. They should also keep in mind that some of their equipment might have a higher profile when operating.

In the event a workplace accident occurs involving an electric power line, a coworker or supervisor should notify the power company in charge of the lines immediately. The MSHA further warns that tractor operators who hit a power line should stay in the tractor until someone de-energizes the power lines unless the accident produces a fire.

Whether or not employees are practicing safety rules, workplace accidents can occur. Employees who suffer injuries while they are engaged in work-related tasks have the advantage of applying for workers' compensation benefits, which typically cover a portion of their lost earnings and medical bills while they take time from work to recover.

Source: National Law Review, "Mine Safety Agency Issues 'Close Call Alert' Related to Surface Power Lines," Tressi Cordaro, May 11, 2017

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