Joint Use Violation Most Wanted List #10: Leaning Poles

Posted by Ashley Little on April 7, 2015

pole_pics_0572-1While there are many issues and violations in the joint use world, there are a few we see so often we consider them problems of interest: repeat offenses to which no utility pole owner is immune.

In this installment, we reach the end of our top 10 joint use violation issue list. From broken guy wires to abandoned equipment to double wood, we have wound our way through the landscape of safety issues most likely encountered in the field, and today, we take on the final topic: leaning poles.

How does this happen?

Wooden utility poles are susceptible to a number of common “ailments” that could cause them to list dangerously to one side. Rot can weaken a pole at its base, causing it to lean. Pests such as wood-boring ants, termites, and woodpeckers can damage a pole’s structural integrity. Humans can cause some devastating blows to pole structure too, especially during traffic accidents. Finally, a leaning pole can also be an indication of a violation of the structure’s weight regulations. Regardless, a leaning pole is a potentially dangerous pole—and needs immediate attention.

What can be done? 

Paying attention to utility poles begins in the field, with utility pole inspection. Conducted on a regular basis, a utility pole inspection can help pole owners identify a number of issues, from common pole health problems, to unsound weight distribution, to identification of bootleg attachments—which may tax a pole’s maximum load capacity. A comprehensive utility pole inspection can also head other problems off at the pass, with rot testing, survey and recording of attaching companies, identification of NESC violations and precise mapping of poles via GPS. Coupled with the use of a joint use management software solution—one designed to organize all information and communication connected to poles and their attachments—this type of due diligence can ensure pole owners have a good handle on equipment, and keep ahead of safety issues before they become liabilities.

Why fix the problem?

A leaning pole may not look like a big deal to the average citizen, but in reality, a leaning pole is a pole with a problem—structural damage or weight issues. The problem arises when other elements put pressure on an already compromised pole. High winds, falling branches, or any number of other, day to day occurrences can bring down an already weakened structure. Falling poles can result in an interruption of service, or worse—injury to bystanders, technicians, or property.

In general, utility pole owners have a clear obligation to maintain and replace damaged and leaning poles, not only for their customers, but also for other utility providers whose services could also become unsafe or interrupted by a falling pole. This involves a clear understanding of the health and status of equipment in the field. Get your assets in order. Your poles—and the public—will thank you.

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