The importance of safety – working close to electric power lines


Safety at work is of crucial importance and it is the responsibility of the project manager to ensure the safety at site!

What happens in the given examples? In the first video three Thai workers are brought into a work situation in which they have to solve an emergency: a seemingly drug addict has climbed above an electric power line post and needs to be rescued. Seemingly being informed that the power lines are not powered the three workers make their way up pre-cautious to not touch the cables. However eventually one of the workers does touch the cables and is immediatelly electrocuted. As per the newsspeaker he ultimatively survived the voltage, but nevertheless got unconscious and might have fallen to death if not protected by his safety devices. Misinformation lead to the accident.

In the second example, taken from an Indian railway station, a man touches the overhead catenary and is electrocuted. Not as lucky as the Thai worker, flames are shooting out of his body and he might have died. The man propably lacked the relevant knowledge to understand what the cables was he was touching. Missing knowledge & training lead to the accident.

As a project manager it is your foremost responsibility to ensure no accidents happen to site as the persons working for you are your responsibility. You have to train all site workers and persons working on site to know what safety equipment they have to wear and how they have to behave on site. Once electric power comes into the game, a special training has to be set up to ensure everybody understands the required safety procedures and safety distances (if possible).

Furthermore next to the training, the project manager has to set up a dedicated process and has to manage the same to ensure that people (despite their training) do not come into situations that might lead them to a decision (based on the training) to come into an unsafe situation. E.g. a dedicated site schedule on a daily basis has to be set up to ensure that electrically powered sections are well-known and only dedicated staff gets entry permit. Depending on the size of the project, a work permit roaster comes into the picture with a dedicated person, who is the person in charge for electric power on/off, is giving the permission to each work team to enter or to not enter.

As per my experience especially the role of the “person in charge” has to be known to everybody on site and inquiries on the situation of the site have to be made only and only to that person in charge, as a hearsay “it’s ok, just like yesterday” to a co-worker can be outdated or plainly wrong. Miscommunication as well as missing knowledge can lead to injuries, accidents and potential lethal situations.

Safety is the responsibility of everybody, but as a project manager better check twice!

Example video 1 – Thai workers

Example video 2 – Indian Railways accident


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