Overhead line safety

when in doubt, look up and out!

Posted on Sep 24 2022 in Safety
Crew working on power line

Follow these guidelines to prevent the most common mistakes made near overhead power lines.

Whether you’re on the job or working on an outdoor project around your home, you should always be aware of overhead electrical lines. Many workplace fatalities are caused by overhead power lines. Imagine how easy it is for us at home, who are not trained to avoid these obstacles, to run into danger! 

“In a majority of cases, fatalities occurred in occupations with little to no electrical safety training,” said Jon Elkins, vice president of safety, training and compliance at Indiana Electric Cooperatives. “That’s why we put so much emphasis on safety training and compliance education, not only for our cooperative employees, but our consumers as well.”

When working on an outdoor project, stay at least 10 feet away from overhead lines. If your ladder or piece of equipment touches an overhead line, both you and the equipment can become a path for the electricity. Look up and out in front of you before using a ladder, large machinery, or a pool cleaning net. Even non-metallic ladders and equipment can conduct electricity. If power lines are present, always carry ladders and long poles horizontally.

Using large tools or machinery can make it harder to avoid overhead power lines. Always consider where power lines are before you begin a project. Scanning the area should be part of your plan from the start.

If you’ve struck a power line and must get off a piece of equipment, jump as far away from the equipment as you can and land with both feet together. No part of your body should touch the equipment and the ground at the same time. Hop or shuffle away from the equipment with your feet together to reduce the risk of electric shock. 

If you come across someone who’s hit an overhead power line, stay away and warn others who may be here to not touch him or her, or you could all get shocked, too. Immediately call 911 and then contact your electric cooperative to turn off the electricity
at your location.

If you know you’re going to be working near power lines, contact your electric cooperative so the experts there can properly inform you on safety precautions you should be taking in your area. Electrical safety is one of our core values.

When should you look up for overhead power lines?

  • Before raising a ladder and when using outdoor equipment of any kind, especially when trees are nearby. Branches can hide power lines from view. Even non-metallic tools can conduct electricity.
  • When using cranes or other lifting devices that approach working distance within 20 feet of power lines.
  • When putting up scaffolding, framing a building, painting, pruning trees or picking fruit.
  • Before moving a ladder, long-handled brushes, and the like. Always carry these items horizontally when power lines are near. 
  • When working on top of buildings.