In conjunction with National Electrical Safety Month, the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission (PUC) today urged contractors and homeowners across the state to learn more about electrical hazards at work and at home, and to take steps to avoid possible accidents and injuries.

According to reports compiled by the PUC’s Electric Safety Division, an average of 24 serious injuries and six deaths involving individuals working around utility company power lines occur each year in Pennsylvania,

The greatest number of injuries involves construction workers, including roofers, crane operators and other workers who contact live wires or who are operating equipment that contacts power lines. Overall, 48 percent of serious injuries and 62 percent of deaths are related to contractor activities.  

Homeowners and other members of the general public rank a close second when it comes to accidents and injuries, especially when using or working with ladders and poles. More than one-third of serious injuries and 28 percent of deaths are related to homeowner or other individual activities.

“If you are going to be working around power lines – at a job-site or while making repairs around your house – check with your local electric utility for information about making the work site safer,” Vice Chairman Place said. “The ‘Electric Safety’ page of the PUC website includes links to important safety information and utility company contacts.”

During a statement at today’s PUC Public Meeting, Vice Chairman Place emphasized that the PUC and Pennsylvania’s utilities are committed to safety, and assistance is available to make work areas near electric lines safe – but those precautions are only effective if contractors and homeowners call before they begin working. Depending on the location and work being performed, electric companies may offer rubberized barriers to prevent accidental contact with lines, stringers to aid crane/boom and lift operators, or may de-energize facilities around the work zone.

Additionally, the PUC also reminded homeowners and contactors of their obligation to contact the Pennsylvania One Call System (PA One Call) at least three days before starting any excavation. PA One Call alerts all utilities within an intended digging area and prompts them to mark where the facilities are located on that property. Pennsylvanians can dial 8-1-1 to connect with the system, while non-Pennsylvania residents can dial 1-800-242-1776.

“Whether they are located overhead or underground, utility lines must be treated with caution and respect,” Vice Chairman Place noted. “Before starting any project, take steps to protect yourself, your co-workers, your home and your business against the possibility of death, injury, service interruptions or costly repairs.”

The Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission balances the needs of consumers and utilities; ensures safe and reliable utility service at reasonable rates; protects the public interest; educates consumers to make independent and informed utility choices; furthers economic development; and fosters new technologies and competitive markets in an environmentally sound manner.

For recent news releases and video of select Commission proceedings or more information about the PUC, visit our website at www.puc.pa.gov. Follow the PUC on Twitter – @PA_PUC for all things utility.  “Like” Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission on Facebook for easy access to information on utility issues.

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