Working Around Power Lines
Work safely around overhead and underground power lines
Contact with power lines is dangerous and can cause serious injury or death. If you work around electricity, you need to take the time to plan your work to ensure all workers are properly trained and prepared to work near power lines.
Preventing Energized Power Line Contact
Watch this short training video aimed at educating on the dangers of working around power lines.
Plan before you start
It is critical to carefully plan your work to prevent contact with overhead and underground power lines.
Check the area before you start your work and identify overhead power lines. Call Hydro at 1.888.737.1296 to make arrangements to have the power lines de-energized, barricaded or moved from the work site if required.
Call before you dig. If you plan to use drilling or trenching equipment, call Hydro before you start at 1.888.737.1296 to identify underground cable locations.
Review the locations and potential hazards of overhead power lines and underground cables with everyone on the work site. Ensure that everyone is aware of the dangers of coming into contact with electrical equipment.
Careful planning can save your life or the life of your friend, family member or co-worker. It can also save your community the inconvenience of a power outage.
Remember, electrical injuries can be prevented.
Know your limits
Keep a safe distance. As a general guideline, you should stay 15 metres (49 feet) away from downed power lines, exposed underground cables or equipment operating around power lines.
Specific requirements for maintaining clearances and providing worker training are covered under the province’s Occupational Health and Safety Regulations, Newfoundland and Labrador Regulation 70/09. These regulations require that workers maintain a safe distance of 5.5 metres from energized equipment. Special permits are required when working closer than 5.5 metres from energized power lines. Operators of equipment that have the capability of contacting overhead or underground power lines must attend an approved “Power Line Hazards” safety course.
Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro re commends specific clearances from overhead power lines depending on location and voltage level of the power lines. Plea se contact Hydro at 1.888.737. 1296 before you work near power lines to ensure you know the clearance recommended to safely c omplete your particular job.
Know the situation
The following are examples of work projects that require particular attention to overhead power lines and underground cables:
Using machinery and equipment: Proceed with caution when operating large machinery or equipment to ensure that you are safely within recommended clearance guidelines to avoid making contact with overhead power lines.
Be aware of the location of power lines when loading or unloading equipment. Ensure the dump/boom body of your machinery is down before you leave the work site.
Building sheds: When planning to build a shed or storage facility, ensure that the shed is built at a safe distance from power lines. Contact Hydro to find out where your shed should be built in relation to the power lines in your area.
Planting and trimming trees: Trees are good conductors of electricity – when they grow too close or fall into power lines, trees can cause public safety risks such as contact with high-voltage power lines or fire, as well as power outages. To deliver safe, reliable electricity service, it is necessary for Hydro to trim and control the growth of trees that have grown too close to power lines.
The best way for you to ensure the safety of you and your community is to plan your landscaping very carefully. Consider the height and shape of the mature tree so that you won’t have a problem once the tree has matured.
If you plant your tree too close to power lines, it may have to be trimmed or removed later. Keep the following distances in mind when planting trees:
Low Zone: The low zone is the area directly under the power line and extends to 4.5 m (15 feet) on either side. Trees and shrubs planted in this area should have a maximum mature height of 4.5 metres (15 feet) or less.
Medium Zone: The medium zone extends from the edge of the low zone to a distance of 7.6 metres (25 feet) on either side of the power line. The maximum mature height of trees planted in this zone should be 7.6 m (25 feet).
Tall Zone: The tall zone is the area more than 7.6 metres (25 feet) from the power lines. Virtually any strong, healthy tree may be planted in this zone.
Contact Hydro at 1.888.737.1296 if you have questions or concerns about vegetation near power lines or if you notice a tree that poses a potential hazard.
Removing or cutting power lines: Moving or cutting power lines can be extremely dangerous. If your job requires you to remove or cut power lines or poles, please contact Hydro to first ensure you have permission to move or cut the power line or pole, and to ensure the line and electricity equipment has been de-energized, and
Drilling or trenching: Before you beginning drilling or trenching, it is very important to call Hydro at 1.888.737.1296 before you dig. Hydro will identify any underground cables in the work site location. Ensure you place signage to mark locations of all buried electrical equipment on site.
Snow clearing: Snow clearing operators are reminded to be careful around electricity lines, poles and guy wires as you conduct snow clearing operations. High snow piles can reduce your ability to clearly identify overhead power lines and poles.
In event of emergency
If it is a life-threatening situation or risk of fire, call your local emergency provider immediately. If there is no immediate risk, call Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro’s emergency line at 1.888.737.1296 (1.888.76.HYDRO) to shut off the power.
If a motor vehicle is involved in an accident with an electrical lines, poles or transformer, treat the vehicle as energized. The driver of the vehicle should stay inside the vehicle until help has arrived, unless there is a risk of fire.
If you must leave the vehicle, jump clear of your vehicle with your feet together and shuffle away keeping both feet close together. Never contact the ground and your vehicle at the same time.
If someone else received an electrical shock, do not touch the person if she or he is still in contact with the source of electricity. The electricity will travel from their body into yours.
If you see a downed power line, stay back 15 metres (49 feet) and contact Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro immediately. If your equipment has made contact with electricity line, do not attempt to remove the equipment or the line yourself – wait for Hydro personnel to arrive.
Remember, plan ahead, know your limits, and know the situation.
Electrical injuries can be prevented.