Keep away from powerlines

  • Date: 04 Dec 2016
  • Categories: WH&S

Dear All

Many farms I have inspected have genuine power line hazard issues.

Whether irrigation, spray or cropping plant and equipment potentially striking the lines, cattle & sheep trucks hitting powerlines or workers breaching excluding zones; it is an issue nearly every farm business operator and workers can come across.

The below table is a good reference point for minimum exclusion zones and is worth sharing with your everyone o your farm.

Keep away from powerlines It’s vital that you and your workers know where overhead powerlines are before work starts.Check for underground lines too using Dial before you Dig.

Once you know where all powerlines are located at your worksite, you need to establish exclusion zones. The size of an exclusion zone depends on:

  • the competency and training of workers
  • the voltage on the line
  • whether or not the line is insulated.

Exclusion zones are the minimum safe distances workers and equipment must stay away from powerlines in all directions to avoid an electric shock.

Powerline voltage (1 kV = 1000 volts) Examples Exclusion zone*
Up to 132 kV Low voltage and high voltage powerlines usually on poles 3 metres
Between 132 kV and 330 kV High voltage powerlines usually on poles and towers 6 metres
Over 330 kV High voltage powerlines usually on towers 8 metres

*Note: The table above does not fully detail exclusion zone dimensions and other requirements.

If you or your workers cannot avoid working near an overhead or underground powerline, you must conduct a risk assessment and put suitable control measures into place:

  • Ensure that neither the height nor reach of vehicles and equipment can cause any part of them to enter an exclusion zone.
  • If possible, arrange for powerlines to be de-energised or relocated away from the work area before work starts.
  • Use a safety observer on the ground to keep equipment out of the exclusion zone.
  • Arrange for the electricity entity to install flags or indicators on overhead lines as visual markers, or use paint to mark the position of power poles and underground lines as well as the correct exclusion zone distance.

If you have any queries please do not hesitate to call.

Best regards

Richard Read

M: 0450 272 780