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March 3-7, 2026

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Construction Safety Working Around Overhead Power Lines



Construction sites can be extremely varying environments and overhead power lines can add more uncertainty. From weather to traffic, there are many factors to consider when making the job site as safe as possible. OSHA has safety requirements, but there are other steps you can take to ensure safety for yourself and colleagues on the job site.


Safety often begins before you set foot on the job site. All workers who will be on the job site should be educated in electrical safety and the scope of work.

It’s also important the employer connects with the power provider to discuss the voltage, de-energizing the lines and grounding the power lines. Sometimes a utility provider can provide temporary safety barriers if de-energizing isn’t an option.

Another step is to take stock of the electrical hazard Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) you’ll need to wear during the job. Employers are required to provide some equipment for free. So, make sure you have everything you need, especially eye and face protection and insulated and flame-resistant clothing like boots and sleeves.

As always, know your rights as a worker. You have the right to a working environment safe from serious physical injury or death. Speak out if you see something concerning. You can be your own best advocate when ensuring safety for yourself and others.


Locate the overhead power lines and any potential hazards and risks. Always assume overhead lines are energized and always stay away from fallen power lines. Working at a safe distance and being cautious with large equipment and trees will help keep you safe on a job site with power lines.

The minimum safe working distance should be determined by the utility operator or a professional engineer. Safe distance in feet depends on the voltage. Up to 50 kV requires a minimum of 10 feet in distance, for example. Of course, the minimum is the requirement, but adding additional space doesn’t hurt if the job site allows.

To help navigate the job site with large equipment, it’s a good idea to place clear signage so operators know they are near power lines. Placing overhead flags gives operators and drivers a visual of the safety clearance needed to pass.

Of course, things go wrong and accidents happen. If an accident occurs involving someone else, call 911 immediately and:

  • Stay Calm: If you had your safety briefing, you will know what to do. This is why safety briefings are crucial.
  • Stay Away: If someone else is injured due to electrical shock, it’s important to not touch them and stay at least 35 feet away.

If you find yourself in a dangerous situation due to electrical hazard:

  • Jump Away: Jump away from the equipment with your feet together. Do not touch the equipment and the ground simultaneously.
  • Shuffle: Do not walk; shuffle both feet on the ground together.


A good practice after any job is to debrief. What worked and what didn’t? Were there any sudden safety challenges you weren’t prepared for? Take note and keep this in mind when preparing for the next job. Each step you take today prepares you for tomorrow’s safety.


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