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Members of the federal rulemaking committee, Cranes & Derricks Advisory Committee or C-DAC, have agreed on the concept of requiring employers to take safety precautions to reduce the chance of worker injury when a construction crane or its load is near a power line. During the Committee?s January 5-7 meeting in Las Vegas, committee members discussed how employers would be required to follow strict safety requirements to a so-called red zone when the crane or its load were within a certain number of feet from a power line. The committee set out strategies for what safety precautions employers would be required and got agreement on them.
However, there was no final agreement on the distance between the crane or its load to the power line that would require such precautions. The current OSHA standard includes a table of distances that are to be maintained, which vary with the amount of voltage running through the power line. Contact with power lines is one of the most common sources of fatal workplace injuries around cranes, according to OSHA. Of the annual crane-related fatalities, OSHA classifies 23 percent as due to contact with electricity, and 12 percent as due to falls.
The committee also discussed the creation of a ?yellow zone? in which the crane or part of a load might intrude into the red zone, in its revision of the crane and derrick rule. Different rules would apply for the two different zones, and the committee members discussed what would be required of crane operators and employees in the various zones. Suggestions include requiring an insulating link to stop the flow of electricity, a proximity warning device that sounds an alarm when near a power line, or a dedicated spotter using a visual aid. A draft of the regulatory text relating to safety around power lines is expected to be reviewed at the next C-DAC meeting which was held Feb. 4-6 in Washington, D.C.