Overhead Line Safety

  • Assume all lines are energized and potentially dangerous.
  • Keep personnel and equipment at least 10 feet from overhead lines at all times. Consider how close aerial equipment will be when fully extended, and use a spotter to monitor placement.
  • OSHA requires greater than 10 feet of clearance from lines that are over 50,000 volts. For example, the minimum clearance for a 500,000-volt line is 18 feet. There are no visible markers to identify a power line’s voltage, so call the local electric utility for clearance information if you are unsure.

SCENARIO: Ladder Hits Lines; Firefighter Dies

Three firefighters were positioning a 35-foot aluminum extension ladder outside a three-story building with an active fire on the third floor. Two of the firefighters apparently slipped and lost control of the ladder, which fell against a 7,600-volt power line. One firefighter was killed and one was seriously injured.