Important Change to the 17-Foot Rule

The U.S. Department of Labor has made a change to the Federal Code of Regulations regarding crane safety.While concrete pumps are specifically excluded from the new regulations, the hazards for cranes and pumps are similar, including booming into power lines.Like cranes, the number one cause of fatal accidents with pumps is electrocution.

Accordingly, the American Concrete Pumping Association (ACPA) has decided to adopt the crane regulations regarding safety near power lines.

We are standardizing for simplicity: one number to remember for pumps or cranes. There is no danger to pumpers who maintain the 17-foot rule.Because of this, we will update our safety information only as it is reprinted.It may take a year or two before all of the ACPA's published material reflects the new rule.

The new ACPA rule is this:

In all situations, you must maintain a minimum clearance of 20 feet from energized, un-insulated, current-carrying power lines with voltages from 0.1 kV to 350 kV (100 volts to 350,000 volts).For voltages above 350 kV,you must maintain a minimum clearance of 50 feet.See the figures for help in determining the types of lines corresponding to the minimum clearance distances.

There are situations in which cranes are allowed to decrease the above distances, with proper preplanning in cooperation with the owner of the power utility and others on the job.Yet experience has taught us that pump operators are rarely, if ever, included in those preplanning meetings.Accordingly, the ACPA believes that publishing only the 20-foot rule and the 50-foot rule will maximize safety for pump operators and others near the pump.

(Images relating to this article can be found in the Winter 2011 Issue of Concrete Pumping Magazine.)

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