Working near overhead and underground powerlines

Contact with or encroachment near overhead or underground electric lines can have deadly consequences.

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Regulations and safety advice

Contact with or encroachment near overhead electric lines can have deadly consequences. Always Look Up and Live.

Compliance with the requirements of the Electrical Safety Act 2002, Electrical Safety Regulation 2013 and Code of Practice 2010 Working Near Overhead and Underground Electric Lines are essential to reduce the risk of electric shock and contact with electric lines and other Ergon Energy assets.

The Electrical Safety Code of Practice 2010 Working Near Overhead and Underground Electric Lines provides practical advice on ways to manage electrical risk when working near electric lines including the exclusion zones that apply. An electronic copy of this Code of Practice as well as, Electrical Safety Act and Regulation is available at the Queensland Government Electrical Safety Office website. You should obtain a copy and read this material, to enable you to fully understand your duties, and prospective means of complying with them.

Examples of work activities where risk of person, plant or equipment coming near or into contact with overhead or underground electric lines include but are not limited to:

  • Pruning or felling trees or vegetation near overhead electric lines, including the service wire into a building
  • Carrying out building work, scaffolding or demolition adjacent to overhead electric lines
  • Painting fascia, replacing roofing, guttering or external cladding near service line point of entry to a building
  • Operating cranes, tip trucks, cane harvesters, elevated work platforms, fork lifts, grain augers, excavators, irrigators, etc near overhead electric lines
  • Erecting or maintaining advertising signs or billboards near overhead electric lines
  • Dam construction or levee bank earthworks.

Examples of work activities that could involve risk of damage to underground cables or earthing systems include but are not limited to:

  • Digging holes, excavating, sawing, trenching, under boring, sinking bore holes, earth works or laying cables, pipes, etc or driving implements into the ground (e.g. star pickets, fence posts) near where underground cables or earthing systems may be located.

Before carrying out any work at a workplace where there is a risk of any person, plant or thing encroach the exclusion zone of overhead electric lines, the person, worker or Person Conducting a Business or Undertaking (PCBU) is required to ensure that the potential hazards are identified. That a risk assessment is conducted and the necessary control measures implemented (including Electricity Entity Requirements: Working Near Overhead and Underground Electric Lines (PDF 725.9 kb)) to minimise electrical safety risks to ensure the safety of all workers and other persons at the workplace. The Electrical Safety Regulation 2013 and Electrical Safety Code of Practice 2010 - Working Near Overhead and Underground Electric Lines detail the Exclusion Zones that must be maintained.

Where a risk assessment has been conducted and control measures implemented in accordance with requirement of Electrical Safety Code of Practice 2010 - Working Near Overhead and Underground Electric Lines and has identified that exclusion zones from overhead electric lines cannot be maintained, the person, worker or PCBU is then required to contact Ergon Energy and request written Safety Advice. The person, worker or person conducting business or undertaking (PCBU) shall be required to maintain exclusion zones until such times as Ergon Energy has provided written Safety Advice.

A person, worker or PCBU would not be required to contact Ergon Energy and request written Safety Advice where their risk assessment and implemented control measures ensure that exclusion zones from overhead electric lines will be maintained throughout performance of work to be undertaken at a particular site.

In order to obtain Safety Advice from Ergon Energy, call 13 74 66 (Mon to Fri, 7am - 6:30pm) or complete and return (by fax or email) the Safety Advice Request Form (PDF 36.8 kb).

On receipt, Ergon Energy will contact you to arrange a suitable date and time to meet on site. Please bring to the meeting your copy of the Code of Practice 2010 Working near overhead and underground electric lines (and Dial Before You Dig Plan for location of underground assets where required), as reference to this will be necessary during the meeting.

Provision of written Safety Advice and/or other control measures by Ergon Energy may incur a fee.

Failure to comply with the Regulation or with Safety Advice given by the owner of the electric line may result in details being forwarded to the Electrical Safety Office.

Electricity entity requirements: Working near overhead and underground electric lines

The Electricity Entity Requirements: Working Near Overhead and Underground Electric Lines the set out the Electricity Entity requirements and provide guidance to anyone who may be contemplating working or operating plant near any the Electricity Entity overhead or underground electric lines (refer Electrical Safety Regulation Section 68).

Overhead electric lines

Comply with Electrical Safety Code of Practice 2010 - Working Near Overhead and Underground Electric Lines and apply the hierarchy of control to eliminate or minimise the risks of a person, mobile plant or vehicle encroaching within the exclusion zone or into contact with overhead electric lines. Specific guidance is provided for work involving LV service lines, operating plant, scaffolding and high load transportation.

Underground electrical assets

Obtain current DBYD plans of electricity entity underground assets within the work site area and use appropriate non-mechanical excavation methods to positively locate underground electrical assets before permitting commencement of civil works or mechanical excavation at site. Ensure compliance with the minimum separation distances of other underground services from Electricity Entity underground electrical assets.

Excavation or civil works

Undertake excavation, trenching, directional boring, hydro vac operating or blasting work in a manner that minimises the risk of compromising the structural integrity of nearby Electricity Entity poles and stay foundations, and damage to underground electric assets at site.

Damage reporting

Immediately notifying the Electricity Entity of any damage caused to overhead or underground electric lines.

Infrastructure near electric lines

A land owner is responsible for compliance with Easement and Wayleave conditions that provide an Electricity Entity with right of access to install, operate and maintain overhead and underground electricity assets on designated areas of privately owned land as well as restricting the nature of development or use of that land.

It is the responsibility of a land owner to contact the Electricity Entity when planning construction work or plantings near electric lines and to ensure that any building or structure erected near electric lines comply with statutory clearances set out in Electrical Safety Regulation Schedules 4 and 5.

High load transport under overhead electric lines

Any person or company transporting a high load (in excess of 4.6m high) under overhead electric lines must comply with the Electrical Safety Code of Practice 2010 Working Near Overhead and Underground Electric Lines and is required to submit a Notification to Transport High Load form (DOCX 89.5 kb) to the relevant Electricity Entity of the intended route and details of the high load involved. Before any person or company can transport a high load (in excess of 4.6m high), authorisation to travel must be received in writing from the Electricity Entity.

Frequently asked questions

Download our Safety Advice Frequently Asked Questions (PDF 176.2 kb)

More information

The following documents are provided by Ergon Energy as guidance material/reference material and the person, worker or PCBU retains responsibility for ensuring that they are meeting their duties under the relevant legislation.

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