I hope that these old-time stories have some power to wake up people 'on active service'. The safety records are full of examples of repeated accidents following near-misses like the one described.
It should be noted that ionizing fields like RF from a transmitter or mobile phone greatly reduces the hazardous distance, increasing the risk of a strike.
The safe approach distance is one that stops you getting an arc jumping across onto you. Nevertheless the field gradient at that distance would still be considerable, so if you weree not in contact with the metal structure at any time you'd build up quite a charge.
And how about these guys:
Was about to ask the safe distance, thanks David you answered my question.
Still a scary situation, Dwight, not only the HV but dangling 80 feet (25 meters) above the ground. What if you had stood up on the crossbar? (is that possible?) Am surprised that your managers did not inform you ahead of time to expect this effect.
I work for an eletricity utility and although my dept doesn't work on the wires, we have to do assessments every year in which we have to give safe approach distances. We usually only go up to 66KV (another co does the 132KV distribution) but I looked up our tables and it gives the minimum approach disstance for 132KV as 1200mm - about 4 feet, so you were above that. The above is for "instructed persons" ie those who know what they are doing - for others it is 3 metres (about 10 feet). Sounds like you were cutting it a bit fine though....
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