Code of Virginia

Code of Virginia
7/27/2017

Overhead High Voltage Line Safety Act

§ 59.1-406. Scope.

This chapter (§ 59.1-406 et seq.) is enacted to promote the safety and protection of persons engaged in work or activity in the vicinity of overhead high voltage lines. The chapter defines the conditions under which work may be carried on safely and provides for the safety arrangements to be taken when any person engages in work or other activity in proximity to overhead high voltage lines.

1989, c. 341.

§ 59.1-407. Definitions.

As used in this chapter:

"Covered equipment" means any mechanical equipment or hoisting equipment, any part of which is capable of vertical, lateral or swinging motion that could cause the equipment to be operated within ten feet of an overhead high voltage line, including but not limited to cranes, derricks, power shovels, drilling rigs, excavating equipment, hay loaders, hay stackers, combines, grain augers and mechanical cotton pickers.

"Notice" means actual notification in the manner prescribed in § 59.1-411.

"Overhead high voltage line" means all above ground bare or insulated electrical conductors of voltage in excess of 600 volts measured between conductors or measured between a conductor and the ground, except those conductors that are de-energized and grounded or that are enclosed in rigid metallic conduit or flexible armored conduit.

"Person" means natural person, firm, business association, company, partnership, corporation or other legal entity.

"Person responsible for the work" means the person performing or controlling the work.

"Warning sign" means a weather-resistant sign of not less than five inches by seven inches with a yellow background and black lettering reading as follows: "WARNING -- UNLAWFUL TO OPERATE THIS EQUIPMENT WITHIN 10 FEET OF OVERHEAD HIGH VOLTAGE LINES" or such other equally effective warning signs as may be approved for use by the Virginia Safety and Health Codes Board or the Commissioner of Labor and Industry.

"Work" means the physical act of performing or preparing to perform any activity under, over, by, or near overhead high voltage lines, including, but not limited to, the operation, erection, handling, storage, or transportation of any tools, machinery, ladders, antennas, equipment, covered equipment, supplies, materials, or apparatus, or the moving of any house or other structure, whenever such activity is done by a person or entity in pursuit of his trade or business.

"Working day" means every day except Saturdays, Sundays, and legal state and federal holidays.

1989, c. 341; 2003, c. 364.

§ 59.1-408. Prohibited activities.

Unless danger of contact with overhead high voltage lines has been guarded against as provided by § 59.1-410:

1. No person shall, individually or through an agent or employee, perform, or require any other person to perform, any work, as defined in § 59.1-407, that will cause any person or tools, machinery, ladders, antennas, equipment, covered equipment, supplies, materials, or apparatus to be placed within 10 feet (3.1 meters) of any overhead high voltage line.

2. A clearance greater than 10 feet (3.1 meters) may be required under the circumstances by the occupational safety and health regulations adopted by the Safety and Health Codes Board pursuant to Chapter 3 (§ 40.1-22 et seq.) of Title 40.1 and enforced by the Commissioner of Labor and Industry.

3. The prohibited activities as described in this section shall not apply to covered equipment as defined herein when lawfully driven or transported on public streets and highways in compliance with the height restriction imposed by § 46.2-1110, nor shall they apply to covered equipment, when used in agricultural or silvicultural activities, that is in compliance with the height restrictions imposed by § 46.2-1110 when driven or transported on land used for agricultural or silvicultural activities.

1989, c. 341; 1995, c. 298; 2003, c. 364.

§ 59.1-409. Warning signs.

A. No person shall, individually or through an agent or employee, or as an agent or employee, operate any covered equipment in the proximity of an overhead high voltage line unless there is posted and maintained a warning sign placed as follows:

1. Within the equipment and readily visible and legible to the operator of such equipment when at the controls of such equipment; and

2. On the outside of equipment in such numbers and locations as to be readily visible and legible at 12 feet to other persons engaged in the work operations.

B. It shall be the duty and responsibility of the owner, lessee, or employer of any covered equipment to acquaint themselves, and their employees who will be operating the equipment or will be engaged in work, with the provisions of this chapter and the regulations prescribed and promulgated pursuant to it.

1989, c. 341; 2003, c. 364.

§ 59.1-410. Temporary safety arrangements.

A. When any person desires to carry on any work in closer proximity to any overhead high voltage line than permitted by this chapter, the person responsible for the work shall promptly notify the owner or operator of the high voltage line on a working day, or in emergency situations as soon as possible under the circumstances, in the manner prescribed in § 59.1-411. The work shall be performed only after satisfactory mutual arrangements have been negotiated between the owner or the operator of the lines or both and the person responsible for the work. The negotiations shall proceed promptly and in good faith with the goal of accommodating the requested work consistent with the owner's or operator's service needs and the duty to protect the public from the danger of overhead high voltage lines. The owner or operator of the lines shall initiate the agreed upon safety arrangements within five working days from the date of the request of the person responsible for the work. The owner and operator of the lines shall complete the work promptly and without interruption, consistent with the owner's or operator's service needs. Arrangements may include (i) placement of temporary mechanical barriers separating and preventing contact between material, equipment, or persons and overhead high voltage lines, (ii) temporary de-energization and grounding, (iii) temporary relocation or raising of the lines, or (iv) other such measures found to be appropriate in the judgment of the owner or operator of the lines. The person responsible for the work shall ensure that the temporary safety arrangements described in this subsection are completed prior to the commencement of any such work.

B. The actual expense incurred by any owner or operator of overhead high voltage lines in taking precautionary measures as set out in subsection A of this section, including the wages of its workers involved in making safety arrangements, shall be paid by the person responsible for the work or a person subject to the following exceptions:

1. In the case of property used for residential purposes, such actual expenses shall be limited to those in excess of $1,000;

2. Whenever any owner or operator of an overhead high voltage line has located its facilities within a public highway or street right-of-way and the work is performed by or for the Department of Transportation or a city, county or town, the actual expenses shall be the responsibility of the owner or operator of the overhead high voltage lines, unless the owner or operator can provide evidence of prior rights or there is a prior written agreement specifying cost responsibility; and

3. Whenever it is determined by the Department of Transportation or a city, county or town that the temporary safety arrangements are for the sole convenience of its contractor, the actual expense shall be the responsibility of the contractor.

C. When requested by a person, an owner or operator of a high voltage line shall provide within a reasonable period of time an estimate of the scope and cost of any required safety arrangements.

1989, c. 341; 1993, c. 284; 1995, c. 298; 1996, c. 267; 2003, c. 364.

§ 59.1-411. Notification.

A. Every notice served by any person on an owner or operator of an overhead high voltage line pursuant to § 59.1-410 shall contain the following information:

1. The name of the individual serving such notice;

2. The location or address of the tract or parcel of land upon which the work is to take place with sufficient particularity to enable the owner or operator of the overhead high voltage lines to ascertain the precise tract or parcel of land involved;

3. The name, address and work day telephone number of the person responsible for the work;

4. The field telephone number at the site of such work, if one is available;

5. The type and extent of the proposed work;

6. The name of the person for whom the proposed work is being performed;

7. The time and date of the notice; and

8. The dates upon which the work is scheduled to commence and be completed.

B. If the notification required by this chapter is made by telephone, a record of such notification shall be maintained by the owner or operator notified and the person giving the notice to document compliance with the requirements of this chapter.

C. To facilitate notification required by this chapter, every operator of overhead high voltage lines shall publish a phone number or numbers that, when called, will serve to provide initial notification of the need to arrange for the temporary safety arrangements pursuant to this chapter.

D. If, after the arrangements required by § 59.1-410 are made, a delay in commencing the work is encountered, then the person responsible for the work shall be required to give a new notice as specified in this section.

E. The provisions of this section shall not apply to the owner or leaseholder of real estate devoted to agricultural or silvicultural activities beneath a high voltage line, unless otherwise required by state or federal law.

1989, c. 341; 1995, c. 298; 1996, c. 267; 2003, c. 364.

§ 59.1-412. Enforcement of chapter.

The provisions of this chapter shall be considered as safety and health standards of the Commonwealth and enforced as to employers pursuant to § 40.1-49.4 by the Commissioner of Labor and Industry.

In the case of violations of this chapter over which the Commissioner of Labor and Industry does not have enforcement powers pursuant to § 40.1-49.4, a civil penalty of up to $1,000 may be imposed at the discretion of the general district court for the jurisdiction in which the offense occurred.

1989, c. 341.

§ 59.1-413. Exemptions.

This chapter shall not apply to the construction, reconstruction, operation, and maintenance of overhead electrical or communication circuits or conductors and their supporting structures and associated equipment of (i) rail transportation systems, (ii) electrical generating, transmission or distribution systems, (iii) communication systems, including cable television, or (iv) any other publicly or privately owned system provided that such work on any of the foregoing systems is performed by the employees of the owner or operator of the systems or independent contractors engaged on behalf of the owner or operator of the system to perform the work.

This chapter also shall not apply to electrical or communications circuits or conductors on the premises of coal or other mines which are subject to the provisions of the Federal Mine Safety and Health Act of 1977 (30 U.S.C. § 801 et seq.) and regulations adopted pursuant to that Act by the Mine Safety and Health Administration.

1989, c. 341.

§ 59.1-414. Application.

A. The owner or operator of overhead high voltage lines shall not be liable for damage or loss to any person or property caused by work within 10 feet of overhead high voltage lines, unless notice has been given as required by § 59.1-411 and the owner or operator of the overhead high voltage line has failed to comply with the provisions of § 59.1-410.

B. Any person responsible for the work who violates the requirements of § 59.1-408 and whose subsequent activities within the vicinity of overhead high voltage lines cause damage to utility facilities or cause injury or damage to any person or property shall indemnify the owner or operator of such overhead high voltage lines against all claims arising from personal injury or death, property damage, or service interruptions, together with attorneys' fees and other costs incurred in defending any such claims directly resulting from work in violation of § 59.1-408.

C. Except as provided in subsection A, nothing in this chapter shall be construed or applied so as to alter the duty or degree of care applicable to owners or operators of overhead high voltage lines with respect to damage to property, personal injury or death.

D. Except for the rights provided to the owner or operator of the overhead high voltage line in subsection B, nothing contained in this chapter shall be construed to alter, amend, restrict, or limit the exclusive remedy provisions of § 65.2-307.

1989, c. 341; 2003, c. 364.

The chapters of the acts of assembly referenced in the historical citation at the end of these sections may not constitute a comprehensive list of such chapters and may exclude chapters whose provisions have expired.

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