Electrocution is a leading cause of death among construction worker fatalities, accounting for 9.3% of total fatalities between 2008 and 2010.

The primary cause of death over 50% of these fatalities was contact with live electrical equipment and wiring. Even though overhead electrical work has long held consistent standards, safety protocols for ground crews on de-energized sites are often more ad-hoc and improvisational, which means increased risk for workers.

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Download this simple checklist to determine if your current EPZ solution provides adequate equipotential work zone protection.

EPZ Safety Checklist

G round crews may suffer injury or even death from step and touch potential. Step potential is when an individual steps on a surface with high voltage and the current carries from one foot through the rest of their body. Touch potential is when the current carries through an individual’s body as a result of a direct touch. It takes 50 volts to break the electrical resistance of skin and cause injury. Serious injuries, or even death, may occur from exposure levels of no more than 50 milliamps.

The IEEE recommends the accepted practice of developing an equipotential zone (EPZ)1, which bonds together all accessible conductors, structures, components and equipment through at least one low-resistance paths. This bonding practice limits voltage exposure to the workers on a de-energized construction site. Grounding protection works to discharge voltage from nearby energized objects, reducing voltage to below a level that might cause injury to a worker.

While grounding causes the immediate operation of a circuit protective device to protect the equipment, a grounded circuit still has an active current which can contain voltage. To protect personnel on the ground from this voltage potential, it is essential to implement bonding.

Choosing A High-quality EPZ Grounding System

While it’s possible to create makeshift EPZ systems, it’s not a good idea to do so for the safety and business reasons outlined above.

Instead, when choosing an EPZ grounding system to protect your ground workers, consider these factors:

  • Durability and reusability
    Is the system reusable without depreciation to the quality of the structure? Using galvanized steel is a good option for ensuring high-quality materials that won’t break down over time.
  • Adheres to Standards
    Does the system meet the ASTM F855-2015, IEEE 80-2013, or IEC 62271-102 Standards? Choose a system that has been tested in real-world scenarios to ensure that it will adequately reduce voltage from step or touch potential below any hazardous levels.
  • Performance-tested
    Has the system passed the following tests?

    • Electrical Short Circuit Capacity Test
    • Grade 5 Fault Current Test
    • Electromagnetic Induced Current Test
  • Consistent product quality
    Does the provider manufacture a consistent product that you can rely on? Pay attention to brand reviews and reputation to ensure that you have access to a consistent, high-quality product.
  • Best-in-Class Worker Safety
    Choose a high-quality, performance-tested EPZ system for your grounding and bonding on de-energized work sites. It is possible to provide the same safety protections to your on-the-ground workers as you would to overhead utility workers. This will deliver a best-in-class protective environment that exceeds OSHA standards.

1 IEEE P1048a – IEEE Draft Guide for Protective Grounding of Power Lines Amendment to Guide for Protective Grounding of Power Lines