Electrical Safety Authority Urges Vigilance After 50% Uptick in Powerline Fatalities

ESA

May 16, 2024

The Electrical Safety Authority (ESA) is issuing an important reminder to Ontarians following a 50 per cent increase in powerline-related fatalities in the province. This Powerline Safety Week (May 13 to 19), the ESA is sharing crucial tips to stay safe around powerlines, both at home and at work.

According to the latest Ontario Electrical Safety Report, between 2018-2022, there were 12 fatalities due to powerline contact – a 50 per cent increase from 2013-2017. In the past 10 years, there have been nearly 1,400 overhead powerline contacts and 45 per cent of all electrical-related fatalities in the province were from powerline contact. 

Despite the real danger, according to ESA research, many Ontarians are not taking precautions. A third (34 per cent) say they rarely or never identify overhead powerlines before doing outdoor chores; and 30 per cent say they never think about getting hurt by electricity because they seriously doubt it will happen to them.

“Powerlines are an extremely serious and deadly threat,” says Patience Cathcart, Director of Data Science and Public Safety Officer, Electrical Safety Authority. “One wrong move near a powerline can have irreversible consequences. Stay cautious, and always keep you and your equipment 3 metres back from overhead powerlines.” 

Most powerline incidents are reported between April and October, as more people are doing outdoor projects and construction season is in full effect. Here are some essential tips to stay safe around powerlines:

  1. KEEP 3 METRES AWAY FROM OVERHEAD POWERLINES. Electricity can jump or “arc” to you or your tools if you get too close. You don’t have to touch a powerline to get a deadly shock.
  2. KEEP 10 METRES AWAY FROM DOWNED POWERLINES. If you see a downed powerline, always assume it is live. It doesn’t have to move or spark to be energized. Downed powerlines can electrify the ground around it, so stay at least the length of a school bus away.
  3. LOCATE POWERLINES. Before you start any outdoor work, locate all powerlines nearby. Look up for overhead powerlines and for those buried underground, before digging, it’s the law to contact Ontario One Call and ask to locate all utility-owned underground infrastructure. You may also require a private locate for underground wires that are not utility-owned.

You can find more powerline safety tips at ESAsafe.com/StopLookLive.

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