Working safe

Working near powerlines

Working outdoors can often mean working alongside the electricity network. Appropriate safety controls are vital to help keep you and your co-workers safe.

You can avoid hazards and prevent overhead cable strikes by following these important steps:

  • plan your job well in advance and consider whether you need to disconnect power while moving plant equipment like cranes onto your job site
  • keep a safe distance from overhead powerlines and remember that the appropriate clearance can vary according to the type of powerline
  • have an up-to-date map showing powerlines and safe traffic paths at your worksite
  • set up plant equipment, work platforms, cranes, cement and tip trucks away from powerlines
  • if you have a high load, map out your safe path away from powerlines
  • use visual indicators like tiger tails and signs to remind workers of overhead powerlines
  • remember tiger tails are not insulators – their presence does not mean you can work closer to powerlines
  • assign an observer to monitor and ensure safe clearances are maintained between machinery and powerlines.

Information about safe work practices, including safety clearances from overhead powerlines, can be found in the Safe Work Australia and WorkCover NSW Codes of Practice. You can also visit  Safe Work Australia and WorkCover NSW for practical advice, guidance and preventative strategies to help mitigate and manage workplace risks to health and safety.

Contact with overhead powerlines

If a vehicle does contact overhead powerlines it will become 'live' and the electricity will attempt to pass through it to the ground. In order to stay safe you should:

  • call 000 and Ausgrid on 13 13 88 immediately
  • always remain in the vehicle
  • never approach, attempt to rescue or allow others to approach any machinery or vehicles in contact with power lines
  • stay a minimum of 8 metres from the vehicle (about a bus length away)
  • treat all powerlines as if they are 'live'
  • after the emergency is over and you are able to access the vehicle, get a professional to check all tyres, bearings and brakes before you operate or drive it.