Even if you’re not working directly with electricity, there are many workplace situations where you might come in contact with powerlines. So, it’s important you know what to do to stay safe.
You might need safety advice if you need to get close to a powerline to get a job done, are involved in an accident, or have to make decisions on planting near the network.
Written safety advice for work near powerlines
All overhead powerlines have an exclusion zone. An exclusion zone is a safety envelope that sets out the minimum safe distance you can work from powerlines.
If you can’t avoid working in the exclusion zone of an overhead powerline, you’ll need to get written Safety Advice from us before you start. You can either:
We'll get in touch to arrange a time to meet on site once we receive your request. Please bring a copy of the Electrical Safety Code of Practice 2020 - Working near overhead and underground powerlines (PDF) and a Dial Before You Dig Plan with the location of underground assets, if you have one. We’ll refer to these at the meeting.
- You may have to pay a fee for our written Safety Advice and/or other control measures
- If you don’t comply with safety advice or electrical safety laws, your details could be forwarded to the Electrical Safety Office.
Look up and Live map
Our Look up and Live map can help you get information and advice about working close to powerlines, including:
- An interactive map for locating powerlines
- Powerline safety guidelines, including powerline exclusion zones
- Options for planning or performing work e.g. powerline visual indicators
- Information on de-energisation or relocation of powerlines
- Safety advice and high load forms
- Dial Before You Dig enquiry.
You can also download the map as the Look up and Live app.
We also offer training sessions to help your team work safely near overhead and underground powerlines. These sessions can be targeted for conferences, business groups, local councils or emergency services groups. We cover topics such as exclusion zones, safety observer zones and how to safely operate plant and vehicles near powerlines.
To find out more or to book a session, email us today.
Fire near powerlines
Whether you’re burning near powerlines for work (e.g. vegetation management), or come across one accidentally, fires near powerlines can be dangerous.
Always let us know about any fires near the electricity network by calling 13 19 62.
If you’re planning fire activity near powerlines, we can give you safety advice and be ready to respond if the fire causes a fault in the network.
IMPORTANT: If you see a fire that poses a risk to property or lives, call triple zero (000) immediately.
Staying safe when fire is near powerlines
Fire can make powerlines more dangerous:
- Smoke can act as a conductor, creating conditions for dangerous flashovers
- Heat can cause powerlines to sag, decreasing ground clearance
- Flames can damage poles, bringing cables down.
If you see a fire near powerlines, call us immediately on 13 19 62, even if you’re not sure if it is a risk.
Take the following precautions if you’re working near fire and powerlines:
- Make sure people, vehicles and attachments are at least 25 metres from the powerline
- Pay careful attention to the height of powerlines when operating plant or vehicles
- Don’t stockpile, windrow or heap combustible material under high voltage powerlines
- Be careful of flashovers if you’re using a powerline easement as a firebreak, or a break for starting back-burning operations, or as a refuge area in a firestorm.
For more information, download our Fire and Powerlines flyer (PDF 1.4 mb).
Accidents and powerlines
Whether you’re driving a harvester, excavator or car - accidents can bring down powerlines or damage electrical equipment. If you’re involved in an accident that impacts powerlines, 'Take care, stay line aware'. Remember that a vehicle might be 'live' if it’s in contact with powerlines.
Staying safe in vehicle accidents
- Treat all powerlines and other electrical equipment as if they’re 'live'
- Stay in the vehicle until the power has been isolated and the powerlines removed. If you leave the car before the power is disconnected, you risk being electrocuted
- Warn bystanders to stay at least 10 metres from the vehicle and anything else in contact with powerlines
- Don't approach a vehicle that’s in contact with powerlines, or allow anyone else to
- Call triple zero (000) immediately to report powerlines down and a life threatening situation
- Contact us on 13 19 62 to switch off the power.
If you must leave your vehicle, use the following steps to protect yourself from electric shock.
Trees and powerlines
When trees are too close to powerlines
Trees planted near powerlines can contact the lines and interrupt power supply during storms and high winds. Call us on 13 12 53 to report trees or vegetation growing too close to powerlines or power poles. If trees are close to or brushing a service line which connects power to a home, this shouldn’t cause a problem.
Important: Never trim trees or other vegetation near powerlines yourself. Call a professional tree trimmer.
Refer to our Trees and powerlines flyer (PDF 476.2 kb) for more information.
Choosing the right tree
If you’re responsible for planting near powerlines, always choose a low-growing species. Use the Safetree plant search to select powerline friendly plants suited to conditions in your council area.
Some trees aren't suited for growing near powerlines, especially if they grow fast and tall or drop large branches in high winds.
These species grow fast and tall:
- Bamboo species
- Tall palms
- Climbing vines
- Tall Eucalyptus species
- Camphor Laurel (Cinnamomum camphora)
- Pepperina/Peppercorn tree (Schinus molle var. areira.).
These don’t cope with high winds:
- Yellow flame tree (Peltophorum pterocarpum)
- African mahogany (Khaya senegalensis)
- River blue gum (Eucalyptus tereticornis)
- Weeping fig (Ficus benjamina)
- Pink trumpet tree (Tabebuia impetiginosa).
If a plant on your property poses a risk to electrical safety or power supply, we may negotiate with you to have it removed.
Choosing the right position
Once you have selected a tree, you should choose a position to plant it that minimises any risk from overhead powerlines. You can do this by:
- Planting small trees at least 3 metres away from power poles
- Planting large trees further away using a 1:1 rule of thumb e.g. a 5m tall tree planted 5m away, a 10m tree planted 10m away
- Planting shrubs or small trees one metre inside the kerb where the council footway is a minimum of four metres wide
- Allowing for at least a 2 metre gap between the service wire to your home and the height of your mature tree.
The diagram below shows the recommended minimum distance between a pole and a grown tree, and the desired maximum grown height of trees under powerlines.
You should also consider how the fully grown tree will affect:
- Visibility from your driveway, intersection sight lines and access to your property
- Pedestrian traffic, mail service and garbage truck access.
You will also need to check:
- Required clearance from street lights
- Local council’s planting guidelines, especially if you plan to plant on a council footway
- The location of any underground cables on your property by calling Dial before you dig on 1100.
Want more information?
If you have more questions, you might find answers on our Safety Advice Frequently Asked Questions page.
Safety fact sheets
Download our fact sheets for information about working safely near powerlines, including some specific guidelines for different industries.
- Look Up and Live – Exclusion zones (PDF 614.2 kb)
- Fire and powerlines (PDF 1.4 mb) (only available to download)
- Trees and powerlines (PDF 1.8 mb) (only available to download)
- Agriculture industry (PDF 1.6 mb)
- Cane industry (PDF 2.0 mb)
- Cotton industry (PDF 1.6 mb)
- Trucking industry (PDF 1.4 mb)
- Building and Construction industries (PDF 1.6 mb)
- Low-level flying (PDF 1.4 mb)
- Structures and Billboards near powerlines (PDF 1.4 mb)
- Powerline markers (PDF 1.8 mb)
To order factsheets in industry packs, use our brochure & sticker order form.
Hers's some relevant forms, documents and other information:
- Electricity Entity Requirements – Working Around Overhead and Underground Electric Lines (PDF 842.1 kb)
- Electrical Safety Code of Practice – Working Around Overhead and Underground Electric Lines (PDF)
- Safety Advice request form
- Decorative painting of Energex assets (PDF 735.8 kb)
- Electrical Safety Office