Newfoundland Power, Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro join forces on safety issue
Newfoundland Power and Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro continue to ask individuals and contractors to stay away from power lines.
© Joe Gibbons
John Curran (left), director of safety with Newfoundland Power, and Darren Moore,general manager of transmission and rural operations with Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro, are shown on Lady Smith Drive in the Kenmount Terrace housing development on Friday afternoon.
The two utilities teamed up Friday to deliver a warning about unexpected and dangerous contacts happening with underground and overhead powerlines.
In 2012, the utilities collectively recorded 136 power line contacts. So far in 2013, there have been 64 line contacts.
“The big concern we’re having now is we’ve been spreading this message through media, through advertising, on social media, any way we can get the message out. We’ve had meetings with contractors, brought them into our offices and explained the dangers and still, for all, to date this year we’ve had 64 contacts with power lines,” said Darren Moore, general manager for transmission and rural operations at Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro.
“And our fear now is that the message is not being effective. The fall is a very busy construction season and we just want to get out there and reinforce that message,” he said.
“We’re worried that if this trend doesn’t stop, someone’s going to lose their life because of this hazard.”
Power line contacts are recorded by the Public Utilities Board and are reported to Occupational Health and Safety. The Service NL department is left to determine if there will be any follow up from a regulatory perspective, including charges.
“It’s in the provincial Occupational Health and Safety regulations that anybody who operates a piece of equipment that can contact a power line must have finished a power line hazards course,” said John Curran, director of safety with Newfoundland Power.
“You have to maintain 5.5 metres from a power line. If you want to go closer, you have to get a permit from the utilities,” he said.
“We want to make sure people know that it’s regulated, it’s very important and those kinds of things can save a life.”
Curran said there are likely several reasons why so many power line contacts are happening, but believes increased construction is playing a role.
Of the power line contacts this year, the majority have involved construction equipment including excavators, dump trucks, boom trucks, cranes, tractors and trailers.
However, according to both utilities, the power line contacts have also come as individuals cut wood or complete projects around their own property, like trimming and cutting trees.