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Why electric line and forklift trucks are a dangerous combination

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Leading forklift safety and training provider Australian Forklift Training warns forklift operators about the need to take precautions when working near electric lines.

NSW regulations covering minimum safe distance specify a distance of 3m up to 132,000 volts; 6m up to 330,000 volts; and 8m above 330,000 volts. It is therefore important to contact the power supplier to determine the voltage of electric lines before starting work. 

Forklift operators can work closer than the minimum distance allowed by getting permission from the electricity supply authority; and ensuring the electric lines are covered by insulation.

Tiger tails are black and yellow pipes that hang off electric lines to warn people of the presence of the power line. Tiger tails do not insulate the line and only function as a visual aid to prevent a person from inadvertently contacting the lines. 

In the event contact is made with live electric lines, the forklift operator must: try and break contact with the lines; avoid touching any metal parts of the forklift if contact is not broken, and call for help; jump clear of the forklift after checking the area around if it is not safe to remain inside, for instance if there is a fire; avoid touching the ground and the forklift at the same time by hopping away at least 8m from the forklift; warn other people to stay at least 8m away until the power has been turned off; follow reporting rules applicable at the worksite including filling out paperwork; and avoid using the forklift until it has been checked by a competent person. 

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