This is a pretty common sight on Atlanta’s busy streets and parkways: Trees and powerlines right next to each other, lining the roads. While this might be a good thing for camouflaging the less attractive wooden electrical poles, electrical lines are some of the biggest risk factors for our men in the trees. In fact, electrocution is the leading cause of tree worker fatalities, accounting for about 30% of the fatalities in our industry (TCIA).
Until recently, Georgia Power used to cover power lines with a rubber hose, making them safe to work near. OSHA regulations have recently changed so that tree climbers are not to be within 10 ft. of a power line, in order to lessen the hazards to tree climbers close to power lines. Because of the new regulations, Georgia Power no longer will cover the lines, in effect making our tree climbers work in more hazardous conditions, because accidents can happen, and indirect electrocution through sticks, equipment or our vehicles can be just as dangerous.
Now, depending on the situation, the safest way to protect our tree workers may be to de-energize or re-route the lines, or shift the electrical loads to other portions of the grid. Before an arborist can give you and your neighbors an accurate quote on what that costs, he must first meet with a representative from Georgia Power for an electrical safety plan on your tree work. We then notify any neighbors who will lose power, which can take time and can pose a significant bureaucratic headache. Most of our tree climbers, and all of our crew leaders have been certified in the Electrical Hazards Awareness Program offered by the Tree Care Industry Association, and can recognize hazardous situations around electrical lines. Still, if Georgia Power is not able to turn off the electrical load in the area we will be doing tree work on your property, you may experience some delays in tree work. We continue to do everything we can to ensure your work gets done speedily and safely.