True or False, if you have any concern with a move, regardless of size you should contact the Utility owner?
In the event of a power line contact, electricity will take all paths to ground. When the electricity comes in contact with the ground it energizes the ground surrounding the point of contact and creates a voltage gradient. The voltage gradient is like a bullseye target point. The circles closer to the centre will have higher voltage and will reduce in voltage as you move outward. This is very important to be aware of because the voltage gradient is not visible. The safe distance to stay back from a power line contact is 10 m or 33 ft. this distance applies to power lines of 138 kV or less, which is the case for the majority of rural power distribution lines in most operating areas. If you are not sure of the voltage of the power line, stay back 32 m or 105 ft.
Step potential is the difference in voltages between two points on the ground when the ground become energized during a power line contact. The ground can become energized in a number of ways.
A power line touches the ground, a tree branch, ladder etc….are in contact with a power line, a truck or piece of equipment is in contact with a power line.
When the ground is energized due to a power line contact, walking to or from the incident site can cause electricity to flow through your body with potentially fatal consequences. Electric current will always take the path of least resistance from high voltage to low voltage.
If you have one foot in an area of higher voltage and another foot in an area of lower voltage, electricity will start flow through your body. Please do not experiment in case this is true.
If you must be on energized ground (e.g., to escape from a burning vehicle), you must shuffle your feet or hop with both feet together to minimize the step potential and prevent the possibility of electrocution. This is called the Shuffle/Hop maneuver.
The Emergency Response Plan (ERP) must be reviewed with workers to ensure that if a contact occurs, every worker knows what to do.
ERP should include: medical aid beyond first aid, public protection, availability and communication with emergency responders, first aid, notification of authorities, knowing what to do if equipment becomes energized etc. Look up and live!
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