Maintaining the proper clearance from overhead power lines is not only critical to a safe work environment, it’s the law. So how do you determine the correct clearance distance? Follow these guidelines:
- If the overhead line is 50 kV or less, stay at least 10 feet away. The clearance distance is 20 feet for cranes and derricks used in construction, unless you have taken OSHA–mandated encroachment prevention precautions.
- Keep all workers, materials, and equipment at least 20 feet away from lines carrying 50 kV to 350 kV.
- For lines carrying more than 350 kV, keep a minimum distance of 50 feet.
If you are unsure of the power line’s voltage, contact your local electric utility before work begins. For specific clearance requirements, visit www.osha.gov.
- A typical distribution line along a roadway may contain voltages ranging from 7,000 volts up to 138,000 volts.
- Major transmission lines can be as high as 500,000 volts.
- As voltage increases, clearance distance increases.
- Direct and indirect contact with power lines is the most common cause of electrocution.
Power lines are NOT insulated. Always consider them energized and dangerous. Any contact with overhead lines could cause serious injury or death to operators and ground crew. Be sure to mark a safety boundary to keep all workers, materials, and equipment the required distance away.
Would you like to know more?
Additional overhead and digging guidelines, emergency procedures, case studies, instructional videos, and training tools can all be found at no charge to you on Xcel Energy’s e–SMARTworkers website.
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