"Knowledge gap" is contributing to on-the-job electrical injuries, BC Hydro says

VANCOUVER - A BC Hydro report finds serious electrical contact incidents are more common among trades workers, and research shows this is partly due to a knowledge gap.

Trade workers were involved in more than 60 per cent of electric contact incidents that led to serious injuries over the last three years, according to BC Hydro.

One-in-five trade workers have also either made contact or had a close call with electric equipment.

“New research finds many have had a close call with electricity on the job or have witnessed unsafe work near overhead lines or electrical equipment,” BC Hydro staff said in the report.

“A gap in electrical safety knowledge is a contributing factor in most of these incidents.”

Most electrical contact incidents take place in the spring and summer, when trade workers are working outdoors and are working in close proximity to power lines.

BC Hydro offered tips for trades workers who may work closely to possible electrical contact points:

  • Look up and down – Observe the site beforehand and plan work so you can avoid contact with power lines
  • Stay back – You and your tools should stay at least 3 m away from an overhead power line
  • Call for help – If you come across a fallen power line, or a tree branch or object contacts a line—stay back 10 metres and call 911. Never try and move it yourself. If you must work closer than 3 m to a power line at your worksite, call BC Hydro before you begin.
  • Learn about the risks – BC Hydro offers in-person and online electrical awareness training for anyone who works near electricity.

The report found that 38 per cent of trades workers who participated in the report said they only feel “somewhat informed” about safety measures around working near electricity and 71 per cent were unable to identify the correct distance they should be away from active power lines or electrical equipment.

BC Hydro said trade workers should participate in its electrical awareness training courses to make sure all safety measures are taken.


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