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Non-conductive shovel? #149849 04/30/04 07:24 PM
Joined: Apr 2004
Posts: 29
djpep55 Offline OP
I was replacing a Federal Pacific No-Blow panel this week & doing my best to keep it safe (I removed the meter instead of throwing the main breaker). I needed to replace the wires from the underground meter-socket to the distribution panel, and needed to dig out the lower cover of the pedestal. I had my fiberglass handled shovel with me & thought---that won't be much fun if I jump on the supply lines. I tried to think of something non-conductive that I had on the truck & only came up with a "commercial-grade" painter's stir-stick. I dug it out by hand---the digging's easy in most areas here in swampland, but thought---there must be something better.

Any ideas?


Arc Flash PPE Clothing, LOTO & Insulated Tools
Re: Non-conductive shovel? #149850 04/30/04 11:15 PM
Joined: Feb 2004
Posts: 1,434
Lostazhell Offline
I've never come across anything better than a fiberglass or wood handled trencher for things like what you describe. With the ground being soft, sounds like the painters stick was a good plan! Here the soil seems to be pretty easy digging if youre near the coastal areas (sand). or a pain in the $@&# inland (clay or rocky soil)

Were the feeders direct burial? There's certain parts of Southern Cali the PoCo used a really thin yellow "tube" which looked like the bendy part of a "flex drinking straw".. popular when they began underground installations in my city around the mid-late 60's.. When I come across this, I tend to just take things nice & easy... If the grounds soft, I'll just scoop the dirt out & not exert force on the shovel, but if the ground is really hard, I'll hire a laborer [Linked Image]
but make sure they have PPE & know what they're working around!


[This message has been edited by Lostazhell (edited 05-01-2004).]

Re: Non-conductive shovel? #149851 05/01/04 01:20 AM
Joined: Jul 2002
Posts: 8,346
Trumpy Offline
---that won't be much fun if I jump on the supply lines.
No, that could damage your underwear!.
I once saw a Builder here that put a pick through a 400V mains cable going into the side of a factory building.
The cable blew with such force, that the pick head was sent through the soffit of the building and was stuck in the roofing iron, when I got there to fix the fault.
He must have mis-understood the meaning of the sign, placed directly above the cable position "LIVE CABLES BELOW!".
I should know, I installed the cable (and the sign) there!.
I do remeber him groaning "you guy's shouldn't hide cables in the ground like that".
I just said "you guys should learn to read"

Re: Non-conductive shovel? #149852 05/01/04 08:08 PM
Joined: Apr 2004
Posts: 29
djpep55 Offline OP
Thanks, guys.

The feeders (when underground) are direct burial around here, Randy, I'm not sure what they are, but it's a triple wire with no outer casing. I don't think they did much underground here before the '70s.

Great story, Mike. The guy was lucky to live to tell the tale. I've seen tools on display at the local tool rental store that had parts missing from being vaporized.

We are required here, by state law, to have the undergroung utilities located---a free service, but they say the marking is within 18 inches and no depth given. Not quite exact enough to be jumping on a shovel. As your story implies, the handle may save you from a shock, but a vertically flying shovel head may damage more than your underwear!


Re: Non-conductive shovel? #149853 05/08/04 06:32 AM
Joined: Jul 2002
Posts: 8,346
Trumpy Offline
Dave, cable location services are free and in this world of close deadlines and such, who gives a toss about a little 11kV cable buried in concrete?.
Sorry to be so sarcastic, but that is the way that I feel about how most people view Underground services, apart from HP Gas lines!. [Linked Image]
Damn!. [Linked Image]

Re: Non-conductive shovel? #149854 05/14/04 04:03 AM
Joined: Jul 2002
Posts: 8,346
Trumpy Offline
I have got to sites to do Line Location Services only to find Builders labourers using picks and shovels, because the concrete covering a nest of 11kV cables, get's in the way of a foundation!.
Most builders here have no idea what 11kV is, let alone the explosion that comes from piercing an elderly Cambric+ Varnished Paper Cable.
To me the biggest danger to Safety is not Electricians, it's other trades, that have NO idea what they are working with!. [Linked Image]
Am I wrong?. [Linked Image]

Re: Non-conductive shovel? #149855 05/14/04 07:31 PM
Joined: May 2004
Posts: 697
Dave55 Offline
Right, Mike.

I see minor violations from other electricians, like conduit support. Typically in this area a lot of the work is "low-bid", so everything is code-minimum. The real hazards come from carpenters who can do it "just as good as an electrician". I do commercial work and rip out anything the carpenters do. They don't have connectors, so a welder home-made cord will connect to a 50 amp 2-pole breaker through the panel knock-out. I rip it out and the general lets me do it right.

I caught them last year running a long extension cord to the roof in the rain on a non-GFCI interior outlet. I do my best to keep them alive---who wants to listen to a crying widow???



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