IPAF advises on power line safety

By Sarah Ann McCay09 March 2014

The International Powered Access Federation (IPAF) used the Conexpo trade show in Las Vegas last week as a platform for stressing the importance of safe working zones when working near power lines.

This was in light of accident data which points to electrocutions as one of the largest causes of aerial work platform (AWP) related fatalities in the US.

Delivering a demonstration as part of the Lift Safety Zone at the Conexpo show, IPAF illustrated the safe and minimum approach distances that an AWP should be when working near power lines.

IPAF recommends: 50ft (15m) + fully extended boom from electrical pylons and 30ft (9m) + fully extended boom from cables on wooden poles. These recommended safe distances meet or exceed those specified in ANSI standards and OSHA requirements.

Tony Groat, IPAF North America manager, explained, “Operators or supervisors are often not in a position to know the voltage in the power source. Knowing the voltage is essential to determine the minimum approach distance (MAD), which is the safest distance a person who has not had specific training in avoiding electrical hazards should approach ‘live’ overhead cables.

"The IPAF recommendations are safe distances until the voltage is determined. It is possible to work closer to power lines than the IPAF-recommended safe distances, but this should only be undertaken after seeking expert advice from the power supplier and implementing extra safety precautions.”

IPAF cited its accident reporting project and Powered Access Rental Market Reports, which found that in 2013 all seven reported cases of electrocution worldwide occurred in the US. The AWP rental fleet is estimated at 510500 in the US, which is 54% of the world rental fleet.

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