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Signs herald election year

But, even political candidates and their volunteers with signs in hand have to follow a few rules to keep their attention-grabbers from becoming a hazard or a lawbreaker.

Wednesday, October 13, 1999

But, even political candidates and their volunteers with signs in hand have to follow a few rules to keep their attention-grabbers from becoming a hazard or a lawbreaker.

In Lawrence County, signs should be confined to private property after permission from the property owner has been given, according to the Lawrence County Board of Commissioners office.

And, in Ironton and other municipalities, the same applies. Signs may not be placed in the tree line, or the area of grass and trees between the streets and the sidewalks, according to city codified ordinances.

But, there are other considerations involving the safety of utility workers, said Melissa McHenry, corporate communications manager for American Electric Power.

Nails, staples and other metal objects used to secure signs to the tall wooden poles pose a real threat to the workers sent to climb, she said.

"Our employees wear rubber protective equipment to protect them when they are working on the electrical lines," she said. "They wear rubber gloves and rubber covering on their arms that prevents electrocution while they are working."

The nails and other objects could puncture that equipment, and the result could be deadly, Ms. McHenry added."

"When they are climbing the poles, the equipment can snag on a nail used to put up a sign, and that nail could rip a hole in the safety equipment," she said. "If the worker is unaware of it and the exposed area brushes against an electrical line, the worker could be electrocuted."

Not only do the signs pose a threat, they also make climbing more of a challenge, she said.

"The workers wear gaffs, which are clips with teeth that go on their boots, much like something a lumberjack might wear," she said. "These will generally help them with traction while climbing, but if they hit a nail or other object in the pole, it could cause them to lose their grip and fall."

If political candidates continue to place signs on utility poles, they might just be wasting their time as well, Ms. McHenry added.

"We don’t have a policy about it, but most of our employees will take the signs off the poles if they encounter them," she said. "It makes their job more dangerous and more difficult, and our main concern has to be the safety of our workers."