Building and construction

Working in the construction industry means you’ll sometimes need to work near electrical hazards, like our overhead and underground powerlines, pillar boxes or electricity poles. You can stay safe by identifying the hazards on your work site and using safe work habits to reduce our risk.

Understanding the risks

Some construction jobs put you at a higher risk of making contact with our overhead or underground electrical assets, which could cause power outages, damage your equipment or give you a life-threatening electric shock. This includes jobs like:

  • working on roofs or scaffolding
  • excavation and trenching
  • demolition
  • loading and unloading trucks or trailers
  • transporting machinery or high loads
  • using large plant like cranes, forklifts and dump trucks
  • erecting signs, flagpoles, shade sails or other tall, metallic structures
  • working around metal water pipes

Check out our Building and Construction Industry Safety Pack (PDF 5.3 mb). Quantities of these can be ordered  via our Brochure and sticker order form.

What are my responsibilities?

If you’re in charge of a construction job or work site, you need to take reasonable steps to protect your workers from electrical hazards. See the Electrical Safety Codes of Practice and Electrical Entity Requirements (PDF 894.0 kb) for more about your legal requirements for worker safety.

If you’re a worker, always ‘take care stay line aware’. Look for electrical hazards at the start of each day and keep an eye on them while you work. You can also use the following safe work habits.

How to work safe

First, contact us during the planning stage. We’ll check that none of your proposed building or equipment (e.g scaffolding, cranes) will not enter a powerline exclusion zone. Find out more about exclusion zones.

Then, use a simple risk management process like the one below to identify electrical hazards, assess risks and plan how to work safely around them.

1. Identify electrical hazards

Check your work area for electrical hazards at the start of each day, or as conditions change.  These are objects or tasks that could cause damage or injury, like a power pole or moving large machinery under powerlines.

To find electrical hazards:

  1. Check the location of powerlines and other electrical infrastructure by:
    1. locating overhead powerlines visually or using our Look up and Live map
    2. locating underground powerlines using the Dial Before you Dig service
    3. noting the exclusion zone distances for each overhead powerline.
  2. Check for changing conditions that could create new hazards, like:
    1. heat causing powerlines to sag, reducing clearance
    2. high winds causing lines to sway or fall
    3. lower light at dawn/dusk causing reduced visibility
    4. damaged power poles reducing clearance.
  3. Check that your equipment and machinery:
    1. is in good working order, with no signs of damage
    2. will not pass into any powerline exclusion zones during your job.

Look up and Live Map – visit now

If you’re a worker, tell the person in charge if you notice any hazards and stay well clear.

If you’re in charge of the job, you’ll then need to assess the level of risk posed by each electrical hazard, before deciding on what action you’ll take.  You can find detailed guidance in the  Electrical Safety Codes of Practice and our Electrical Entity Requirements. (PDF 894.0 kb)

IMPORTANT: Stay well clear of damaged powerlines and report them immediately by calling triple zero (000).

2. Use safe work habits

If you can’t remove a hazard, you can use safe work habits to reduce the risk as much as possible.  For example, you could reduce the risk of electrical accidents on your site by:

  • making sure all workers are familiar with relevant sections of the Electrical Safety Codes of Practice and our Electrical Entity Requirements: Working near Overhead and Underground Electric Lines (PDF 894.0 kb).
  • making sure your workers have the right training and are competent to do the work you assign
  • Having us install powerline markers to improve the visibility of overhead powerlines
  • inducting all new members of your workgroup and site visitors by taking them through any potential electrical hazards
  • adding a specific electrical safety check to your risk assessment forms, work instructions and quotation pads
  • reminding workers of powerline exclusion zones, and making sure they maintain the right clearance
  • making operators of machinery or delivery vehicles aware of the height of their vehicle or load
  • advising machinery and delivery vehicle operators of all powerline locations
  • assigning a Safety Observer to each work team to guide machinery movements or when handling material near overhead powerlines.

A Safety Observer, sometimes known as a spotter, is a person who watches over machinery or equipment in use in high risk situations. Their job is to alert the operator if any part of the machinery or equipment is at risk of entering an overhead powerline exclusion zone.

Safety Observers undergo specific training and must be competent to perform the role in observing, warning and communicating effectively with the machinery or equipment operator.

So, when do you need to use a safety observer?

Anytime there is the possibility of machinery or equipment reaching or entering an exclusion zone a trained Safety Observer MUST be appointed.

When a trained Safety Observer is appointed a Safety Observer Zone can be set up 10 meters either side of overhead powerlines. A Safety Observer Zone is an area where machinery or equipment is allowed to operate even if any part of the machinery or equipment COULD enter the powerline exclusion zone.

Before starting work take the time to plan.

Visit our website or contact us for more information about Safety Observers, Safety Observer Zones, or to order industry specific safety materials to help you and your team work safely around powerlines.

Advice during the planning stage

Make sure you contact us for safety advice during the planning stage of your construction or demolition project. We’ll be able to help you arrange upgrades, relocations or disconnections to your electricity services before work begins. You’ll also need to submit a request if you need us to disconnect the site during construction.

Be sure to submit your request well before work commences.

IMPORTANT: Do not start any work near Energex equipment or demolish any structure where our equipment is located until we have confirmed that the equipment is safe.

Marking powerlines on your site

Find out about powerline markers and how to increase the visibility of powerlines on your property. Marking powerlines is especially important when low level flying or operating large machinery on your property.

Awareness sessions

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.

Email us to find out more or to book a session.

Want more information?

Safety fact sheets

Download our fact sheets for information about working safely in construction:

To order factsheets in industry packs, use our brochure & sticker order form.

Other forms and guidelines

Links to some popular request forms and information.