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Six safety tips when dealing with overhead electricity lines

14 May 2013 – A former electrical lineman and electrical accident survivor in the USA has shared six safety tips. "Everything you are going to do is going to affect others for the rest of your life. So if you get injured, it’s an impact that’s going to affect everybody," says Gary Norland, a former lineman. Twenty years ago, he and his co-workers were discussing weekend plans while working near overhead power lines. He suffered life-changing burns and injuries when he leaned back and came in contact with 12,500 volts of electricity.

He spent four months in the hospital, and has gone through more than 50 surgeries. Before his accident, Norland was known for his incredible strength. More than 6 feet tall, he excelled at a variety of sports and outdoor activities. However, after his accident, he had to start all over by learning to walk again. He still has difficulty walking and sometimes needs to use a wheelchair. Despite all he has been through, Norland sees his accident as being more difficult on his loved ones. "It impacts them more than it impacts you," he says. "If you get injured, you are going to deal with it, but what are they going to do? They didn’t have any choice in the matter, but your choices impacted them."

He urges everyone to take the time to be safe on the job and at home. "Those small shortcuts will add up to that big one, and then everything is going to change. Take the time, and do it right the first time. Make sure you do everything safe."

The safe electricity campaign reminds everyone to take note of overhead power lines when working outside:

  • Look up and around you. Always be aware of the location of power lines, particularly when using long tools like ladders, pool skimmers, and pruning poles. Be especially careful when working near power lines attached to your house. Keep in mind that wind can blow large objects out of your control.
  • Keep equipment and yourself at least three metres feet from power lines. Even if you do not come in contact with a power line, the electricity can arc to close objects and people.
  • Be careful when working on or around your roof — installing or cleaning gutters, installing rooftop antennas and satellite dishes, or doing repair work. Never use water or blower extensions to clean gutters near electric lines. Contact a professional maintenance contractor.
  • Never climb trees near power lines.
  • Never trim trees near power lines. Leave that to the professionals.
  • Always follow safety procedures, no matter how boring and mundane they seem.