May 17, 2020

PUC Highlights Home Electric Safety; Urges Homeowners and Contractors to Identify and Avoid Common Hazards

PUC Highlights Home Electric Safety; Urges Homeowners and Contractors to Identify and Avoid Common Hazards


HARRISBURG – In conjunction with National Electric Safety Month, the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission (PUC) is reminding homeowners and contractors to use extra caution while working around electrical systems – especially overhead power lines.

According to data compiled by the PUC’s Safety Division, homeowners working with ladders and poles generate the second-highest number of incidents every year. Among construction workers, roofers and crane operators are at the greatest risk.

Every year an average of six Pennsylvania residents are killed and 24 people are seriously injured because of accidental contact with utility company power lines.

Warmer weather traditionally marks an increased tempo for home improvement and construction projects – underscoring the importance of identifying potential electrical hazards around the home or on the job site.

The PUC stressed that the best way to protect yourself, your families and your co-workers against the possibility of death, injury, service interruptions or costly repairs is to identify hazards and develop proper safety plans before any work begins.

Anyone planning work around power lines should also check with their local utility for information about making the work area safer.

Also, the commission encouraged homeowners and businesses to consider postponing non-essential work near power lines – noting that delaying the start of those projects can help safeguard against accidental damage and prevent unplanned outages during this stressful time, avoid further strains on first responders and allow utility crews to focus on essential services.

Electric Safety Tips

The commission offered the following electric safety tips for working around the home:

  • Locate all overhead power lines before starting any project.
  • Stay at least 10 feet away from all overhead power lines – and remain at least 35 feet away from any downed lines.
  • Carry ladders and equipment horizontally.
  • Look all around before moving ladders or other equipment.
  • Avoid touching any fallen lines, or anything in contact with power lines – including sagging trees with broken limbs.
  • Never try to remove trees or limbs from power lines.
  • Stay away from objects or puddles in contact with downed power lines.
  • Notify the utility company of any issues.
  • Provide utility crews with ample room to complete restoration and maintenance work on their facilities.

The PUC and Pennsylvania’s utilities are committed to safety, and assistance is available to make work areas near electric utilities safe.

For the safety of everyone involved – from contractors and homeowners to utility company workers and bystanders – the PUC urges people to review important safety information on the Electric Safety page of the PUC website and contact the local utility company when planning any project.

Home Electric Safety Tips

For residents either teleworking or virtually learning from home, the Commission provides the following general electric safety tips:

  • Avoid overloading outlets.
  • Regularly inspect electrical cords and extension cords for damage.
  • Use extension cords only on a temporary basis.
  • Never run cords under rugs/carpets, doors, or windows.
  • Make sure cords do not become tripping hazards.
  • Never plug a space heater or fan into an extension cord or power strip.
  • Make sure your home has working smoke alarms.
  • Unplug appliances when not in use to save energy and minimize the risk of shock or fire.
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