Unitil Corporation, (Unitil.com), a provider of natural gas and electricity to customers in New England, would like to remind the public that hanging signs on utility poles is generally not allowed and is a practice that could even create potentially life-threatening hazards for lineworkers.
Utility poles are private property that is typically owned by electric and telephone companies.
“Placing any type of advertising on a utility pole is like attaching it to someone’s mailbox. It’s not appropriate, and in this case, there’s always a possibility that the sign could interfere with utility work or even injure a worker,” said Unitil Media Relations Manager Alec O’Meara. “While we work closely with communities in our service territories and have made some exceptions in the past, generally speaking, the only time when a sign would be allowed is in the case of street signs being hung by the state or a municipality.”
Sharp objects used to attach signs have the potential to endanger the safety of lineworkers if they unknowingly come into contact with them. Any piece of metal in a pole can hinder the ability of the lineworker’s climbing hooks, also known as gaffs, to dig into the pole’s wood. If a gaff kicks out while a lineworker is on the pole, it could increase the risk of a fall with the potential for serious injury or death. Metal pieces can also puncture small holes in rubber gloves and other rubber materials that are worn and used by lineworkers to protect against electrocution.
“Even though much of today’s work is performed with the use of a bucket truck, lineworkers still climb poles on occasion and it’s important for people to be aware of just how dangerous staples, nails, and tacks can be,” O’Meara said.
The placement of a sign could also block the view of motorists and cause blind spots, increasing the risk of accidents involving motor vehicles and pedestrians.
In addition to the safety risks, any sign placed on a pole could also obscure pole markings, such as a pole number, and possibly slow a response to customer outages. Markings for condemned poles could be hidden by the sign as well, resulting in a lineworker climbing a weakened pole.
While political signs on poles have been an issue some years, candidates were largely respectful of avoiding sign placement on poles during this election season.
“Now that ‘sign season’ is over, we just wanted to remind folks that keeping our employees safe is a top priority, and we appreciate the public’s help in keeping our poles free of unnecessary signs and other potential obstructions,” O’Meara said.