Construction professionals mitigate various issues daily that disrupt on-site operations. However, it can be difficult to foresee when a power outage will happen and how to handle the repercussions when it does. Luckily, there are a variety of ways you can avoid this dilemma.
The Dangers of a Sudden Power Outage
Construction and electricity have a close relationship that results in productivity and profit. Even when everything seems manual, multiple factors like communication and equipment use rely on it. This dependence is part of why the lack of power can throw the whole lot into chaos.
When the machines stop working and the lights at a construction site shut down, everything must go on hold. On top of that, it can also put many of your crew members at risk. One survey found 52% of electrical fatalities occur at construction sites.
Preventing Power Outages
While there’s no guarantee power loss won’t happen, minimizing the chances of such a failure gives your operators and contractors a better working environment.
1. Identify and Limit Areas
When construction work is near overhead power lines or other electrical facilities, the possibility of an accident is higher than ever. Your energy sources at the lot are delicate even without those factors, so run a risk assessment to check critical areas. With that information, you can prepare a contingency plan to keep the project going.
Aside from preparing countermeasures, monitor and limit access. Restricting the number of authorized personnel in high-risk areas will minimize the possibility of human error in those dangerous spots.
2. Get Temporary Construction Power
Temporary construction power can save you from a complete outage. Run an inventory to figure out what items need which specific electricity source. Here are a couple of options to explore for your site:
- Generator: A generator is the simplest solution and provides considerable electricity to construction machinery. It’s also lauded for its portability and reliability. Consider that the price of a commercial generator can vary based on watts, voltage and overall efficiency.
- Portable solar panels: The sector is implored to utilize renewable energy like solar power. Portable panels provide construction power that can rival a generator. However, its efficiency will depend on how much sunlight you get. There’s also the matter of how much energy your storage system can hold.
- Power distribution box: A power distribution box should be used in conjunction with a generator and solar panel system. Utilizing this tool can allow multiple construction workers to access the stored electricity safely.
- Batteries: Cordless construction tools will require batteries instead of direct electricity. Try to keep electrical energy in rechargeable batteries as a backup in case the current unit runs out of power during the outage.
3. Give Your Backups Maintenance
Generators and other forms of temporary construction power provide plenty of support during an outage. However, they can only do so if they’re in top condition. Regularly change the filters and perform tests to check the quality of your power source. Doing so can also lengthen the life span of their operational capabilities.
It’s also best to inspect the machine for oil leaks that would hinder its performance. A generator’s fuel can oxidize and break down over time. This process can cause your power source to overheat and fail, resulting in a vulnerability that could lead to a power outage.
4. Practice Mindful Energy Consumption
Equipment on construction sites is used throughout the day, so some tools and machines will sit idle. Crew members may decide to keep these on throughout their breaks to avoid cooldowns, but this practice can do more harm than good. Only turn them on when they’re in use.
By practicing mindful energy consumption, you can significantly avoid overloading the circuits and causing a sudden power outage. You can start by letting your equipment warm up for three to five minutes when necessary. Enable automatic shutdown options for more idle machines when available.
5. Install Power Detectors
It can be tricky to coordinate on large-scale construction projects when a power outage happens, so invest in power failure detectors that send alerts of a possible power cut and highlight shortages on your site.
The real-time alerts notify project managers to monitor the energy levels of your temporary construction power. This can implore quick decisions to resolve an outage as soon as possible.
6. Conduct Safety Training
Human error can be a dangerous factor to overlook. For instance, gas vapors and heat from your power generator can mix and cause an explosion on site. Mismanagement of wires and machinery also leads to power failures. Aside from that, the lives of your construction workers can be at risk.
Safety training is a requirement for construction workers to take seriously — it can be the difference between safety and injuries or casualties. Simultaneously, better workflows on-site will likely keep the power on.
7. Keep Your Project Schedule Flexible
One key way to prevent power outages is to be flexible with your project schedule. Check in advance for any planned outages that may conflict with your workdays and reschedule accordingly. In case of bad weather, it’s best to check the forecast, too. Strong winds, rain and snow tend to cause power outages, so decide whether you can push through with your timeline.
8. Be Meticulous with Excavation
Clearing a site of land and rocks is a necessary step in most construction jobs, but it’s a delicate process. There might be underground network cabling that can cause power disruptions. Be sure to check your papers to see how far you can legally dig and keep excavation specialists on-site to prevent going too deep.
Should You Keep Working During an Extensive Outage?
Collaborating with your crew and enabling temporary construction power during these events is important. In the case of a prolonged outage without alternative electricity sources, hit pause on the project. You can proceed when the electricity comes back rather than risk people’s safety on the lot.
Keeping Your Site Powered Up
It’s imperative to avoid a power outage at your construction site to keep productivity going. Plus, getting temporary construction power along with other measures will protect your construction staff and workplace.