It's easy to prevent serious accidents involving cranes and power lines by complying with OSHA standards and applying some general safety techniques.
The new OSHA Cranes in Construction Standard states that the crane operator must do the following:
Always consider all power lines as energized and dangerous. Any contact with a crane boom will probably cause serious injury to operators and workers, and damage to equipment.
Look up before you unload or load a crane from a truck or lowboy. Make sure there are no overhead lines before you start.
Educate your crew — particularly new employees — about the dangers of overhead power lines. During crane operations, the most hazardous thing a ground worker can do is touch the crane or load line.
That's why it makes sense to add an extra margin of safety by barricading your crane's operating area. A well-placed barricade also serves as a visual reminder of the danger zone and can minimize risk to those in the area, or those handling the load line, slings or cable (see OSHA Standard, above).
Be safe. The crane's mast or boom must be kept at least 10 feet away from a normal distribution power line at all times — this includes the load line and the load (see OSHA Standard, above). Skilled crane operators know that distances in the air are hard to judge, and that a spotter is a good safety measure. When working near any power line, use the shortest boom possible. Never move a crane under a power line unless there are adequate clearances.
Remember, it's the law. Many states like Virginia and North Carolina have a state law which requires that the operator/owner of a crane notify a utility or line owner at least 48 hours before they work in close proximity to any power line.
If your crane boom or mast contacts a power line, the operator should immediately try to swing the boom into the clear.
If it is necessary to leave the equipment, anyone on the machine should jump entirely clear of the unit. Jump so that both feet hit the ground at the same time, and keep them close together.
Walk away in a small-step shuffle because a lot of power flowing into the ground can create differences in electrical potential around the problem — enough differences to actually shock anyone whose feet are too far apart.
Once clear of the equipment, do not return for any reason until the power line has been grounded or determined to be safe by your electric utility or the owner of the line. Keep anyone nearby from touching or approaching the equipment.