Electric power lines travel through dense areas with thick vegetation. Project managers must mitigate complex logistics throughout the installation process. However, before any major thoroughfare is primed for construction, it must be properly cleared through a process known as right-of-way (ROW) clearing. This includes building in swamps and wetlands, conducting upstream drilling operations, and carrying out wind farm construction and other renewable energy projects. 

Natural gas accounts for nearly one-third of energy emissions in the United States. In order to supply Americans around the country with an energy supply, workers must clear land areas of 25-150 feet. Project managers must find ways of clearing safely to ensure workers, equipment, and residents in the surrounding area are kept safe. Here are 5 best practices for safety management on Right-of-Way clearing projects.

1. Hire the Most Experienced Crew Members 

Installation of temporary access roads requires timeliness, productivity, and safety. Project managers must call on workers with extensive industry experience to ensure every ROW process receives the proper attention. Emergency access is paramount for all workers. That’s why utility companies must prioritize ROW clearing so that crews can build emergency and routine maintenance access.

If crews have trouble wading through thick vegetation or traversing uneven landscapes as they begin the construction process, their work becomes not only more hazardous, but also more costly. Investing in ROW access up front offers a higher ROI over time.

2. Use Top-of-the-Line Equipment

A comprehensive access plan must include the use of high-quality machinery to complete tasks such as canopy trimming, mowing, and forestry mulching. Using the very best machinery on the market helps reduce associated maintenance costs. Some of the most common types of equipment include marsh masters for wetlands, remote control slope equipment in areas where land is at an extreme slope, and arborist aerial lifts. 

Access mats make it easy to transport your equipment to and from a worksite without slowing your workers down or tearing up ground as you go. Keep costs low by working with an experienced access planning team who can help you find the right solutions for your specific ROW project's needs

3. Adhere to Conditions and Regulatory Standards

The Department of Transportation sets a list of regulatory requirements for each state. Utility companies must comply with protocol that dictates how best to clear and maintain ROW access so that construction can proceed safely. Adhering to these standards not only ensures the safety of workers but also eliminates the risk of hefty fines. 

Similarly, the National Electric Safety Code (NESC) establishes ground rules and requirements to protect utility workers and the general public during the installation, operation, and maintenance of electrical access and related equipment. Every five years, the NESC Board revises its set of standards to reflect the most common and up-to-date industry practices. 

4. Protect Power Lines

Power lines often weave through areas of rugged terrain to bring electricity to customers. Workers must operate heavy equipment, including cranes, to carry out the installation process. YAK ACCESS solutions allow workers to complete their installations while leaving the surrounding ecosystems undisturbed. When ROW clearing is done the right way, workers can meet strict deadlines and keep up with the increasing demands for upgraded power lines. Safety matters at YAK ACCESS too. Projects must comply with strict criteria to protect workers and the local environment at all times. 

Access solutions are made of durable timber and are available in a variety of sizes, including custom designs. In the case of power line installations, YAK ACCESS services temporary roadways across wetlands, as bridges over waterways, and as firm foundations meant to reduce the ground pressure caused by heavy machinery. 

5. Manage Vegetation

The most dense forms of foliage and vegetation affect power line construction the most, including stems, roots, and shrubs. They hamper teams’ ability to move large equipment across uneven ground and can lead to accidents or injury. Workers must also cut back the side tree canopy that, when left unattended, can inhibit the aerial view pilots need to monitor the ROW process. 

Depending on the size of the roots or stems, utility companies may need to call on ROW experts to manage the project. This includes treating thick tree roots with herbicide and pulling up brush by the root to prevent further growth. Teams that do not take the proper steps to clear vegetation will end up paying more in the long run and will slow the installation process. Right-of-way clearing teams can roll out access roads after they’ve cleared vegetation to reinforce the maintenance of all passageways. 

YAK ACCESS gets right-of-way clearing done the right way because we work with the very best in the business. YAK ACCESS proudly houses all of its service companies under one roof. When it comes to ROW access, our YAK MAT brand is our go-to as the largest supplier of access mats in all of North America. YAK MAT delivers top-of-the-line hardwood mats, right-of-way access, and EPZ grounding grates without compromising safety or product integrity. To YAK ACCESS, getting a job done is just as important as keeping our workers safe. That’s why we’ve committed ourselves to the highest standards in safety regulation. Watch this video to learn more about YAK ACCESS’s commitment to safety on every project, every time.

Learn About Safety Matters at YAK ACCESS