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One thing I dislike in my line of work is having to work around power lines. They make me feel uneasy. I operate tower cranes and mobile cranes and I find in regards to power lines that tower cranes are safer only because you develop familiarity with the site and know the hazards, generally a tower crane job runs for a minimum of 6 months and in the early stages when there is not much happening its necessary to make a note of hazards and their location. With a mobile crane as they go from site to site you are not going to be as familiar with the hazards around you so it is doubly important to do a pre set up check of all the hazards including power lines.
On power lines many times they will have a yellow and black sheath called a 'tiger tail' this is for visual identification as the grey power lines can be almost impossible to see against a grey road for background. However even with tiger tails it is mandatory to keep the minimum required distance when working near power lines, the distances are as shown in the chart 3m for low voltage lines, 6m for high voltage lines and 8m for transmission lines. You may not know this but you don't even need to touch the power lines for the crane to get electrocuted as the electricity can arc from the lines to the crane. And your crane will get electrocuted even if you touch just one wire are unlike a bird that can sit on a power line the crane is in contact with the ground, electricity always takes the path of least resistance and if your crane is nearby its easier for electricity to travel down your boom than down the street.
There are rules you must follow if you do come in contact with power lines including not to leave the crane unless absolutely necessary, however every YouTube video of cranes touching power lines the crane becomes engulfed in flames extremely quickly. My personal opinion is that if you hit power lines there is a good chance of death resulting, so play it safe, do a check for power lines before commencing work and keep safe distances. I have attached the code of practice in regards to work near overhead power lines, its worth a read.
Also check this video of a mobile crane that has come into contact with power lines, you can visually see the electricity making contact with the ground through the crane, and how quickly the crane becomes engulfed in flames. Arrggg... I wish power lines could all be buried!
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