Overhead Line Safety
- Assume all lines are energized and potentially dangerous.
- Keep all personnel and equipment as far away as possible from overhead power lines, including the service drops that run from utility poles to buildings. Personnel, ladders, and fully extended aerial equipment must never get closer than 10 feet from lines up to 50,000 volts, and higher voltages on large transmission towers require additional clearances of up to 50 feet. Use a spotter to monitor placement of equipment.
- 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.
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.