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 ahead to ensure all workers are properly trained and prepared to work near power lines.
A safety space
must be kept between yourself and power lines. Electricity will flow along power lines without causing harm unless it is interrupted. Keep a safe distance between you and power lines at all times. Remember, if interrupted, electricity will follow all available paths to the ground – including you – causing severe injury or even death.
Remember, if you have any questions please call Hydro at 1.888.737.1296.
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 do more than save your community the inconvenience of a power outage. It can save your life or the life of a friend, family member or co-worker.
Remember, electrical injuries can
Keep a safe distance
Know your limits and keep a safe distance from power lines.
Specific requirements for maintaining clearances and providing worker training are covered under the province’s Occupational Health and Safety Regulations (OH&S)
, Newfoundland and Labrador Regulations. Special permits are required when working closer than six (6) 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 recommends specific clearances
from overhead power lines depending on location and voltage level of the power lines. Please contact Hydro at 1.888.737.1296
before you work near power lines to ensure you know the clearance recommended to safely complete your particular job.
Once Hydro receives a call requesting a special permit, a Hydro line supervisor in the area will visit and assess the suitability of the work site. They measure the distance of the power lines to the ground and examine the equipment that will be used to determine if it can be safely deployed.
It is important to allow time for this work site visit to be completed and the necessary permits issued before starting planned work near power lines.
As a general guideline,
you should stay 30 metres away from downed power lines, exposed underground cables or equipment operating around power lines.
Types of potential incidents
The following are examples of work projects that require particular attention to overhead power lines and underground cables:
Safely plant and trim trees near power lines
- Using large 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.
The following are examples of large machinery and equipment that have been known to come into contact with 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.
- Excavators – this type of machinery is at extremely high risk of making contact with overhead and underground power lines.
- Dump trucks
- Snow clearing equipment
- Transporting high loads: If you intend to transport any load in excess of 4.15 metres high along a public road, you are required to obtain a permit from the Department of Transportation and Works. Newfoundland Power or Hydro must also be contacted to determine whether or not an escort is required. When operating equipment, post a signal person to ensure you maintain a safe working distance from overhead power lines.
- Drilling or trenching: Before you begin 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.
- 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.
- Snow clearing: Snow clearing operators are reminded to be careful around power lines, poles and guy–wires, as high snow piles can reduce your ability to clearly identify them.
Trees are good conductors of electricity. When they grow too close or fall into power lines, trees can cause public safety risks such as electrocution, fire and 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 your safety and your community’s is to carefully plan your landscaping. Remember, it is crucial to consider the height and shape of the mature tree so that you won’t have a problem once it has grown.
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:
The low zone is the area directly under the power line and extends to 4.5 metres (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.
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 metres (25 feet).
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 could be a potential hazard.
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 Hydro’s emergency line at 1.888.764.9376 (1.888.76.HYDRO)
to shut off the power.
If a motor vehicle
is involved in an accident with power lines, poles or a 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
away keeping both feet close together. Never contact the ground and your vehicle at the same time.
If someone else has 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 30 metres and contact Hydro immediately. If your equipment has made contact with a power line, do not attempt to remove the equipment or the line yourself – wait for Hydro personnel to arrive.