Summary Statement

A handout describing dangers of electricity in the roadway workzone, including discussion of power hazards both above and below ground, and how to handle the situation if a worker comes in contact. Part of a collection. Click on the 'collection' button to access the other items.

This document is one in a program produced under an OSHA grant by a consortium of the Laborers' Health and Safety Fund N.A, the International Union of Operating Engineers, the American Road and Transportation Builders Assn, and the National Asphalt Pavement Assn. All of the documents from this set that are on eLCOSH can be found by clicking on Job Site, Heavy construction, and scrolling to the Street & highway heading. Or to download a complete version of the computerized program, go to

What Are the Dangers of Electricity?
Contact can cause explosion, fire, electrocution.

On the worksite
  • Equipment contacting a live electrical line can cause fire, explosion, or electrocution
  • Electricity can arc from the line to the equipment
  • Electricity can cause severe burns and death
Work around electricity only
  • When you are trained in all aspects of the job
  • When you have a reason to be there

How Do We Treat Above-Ground Utilities?
Use extreme caution and keep your distance.

 Cone with When working around a power line
  • Get the utility company to mark, flag, and shield lines
  • Assume it is live until tested, have it de-energized and visibly grounded
  • If it must remain energized, keep equipment and load at least 10 feet away and use a spotter to warn the operator
  • Post signs at ground level to mark safe distance
  • Make all workers and drivers who must enter the area aware of the overhead lines
Tips for operators
  • Mark a safe route for repeated travel
  • Slow down
Minimum Safe Distances Power Lines
Voltage Distance
50 kV or below 10
>50-200 kV 15
>200 - 350 kV 20
>350 - 500 kV 25
>500 - 750 kV 35
>750 - 1,000 kV 45
More in fog or rain

What If Contact Happens?
Do not touch equipment or person in contact.

If you are on the ground
  • Stay away from the vehicle!
  • Do not touch any equipment or person in contact with the line
  • Get the lines de-energized
If you are in the vehicle
  • Stay in the vehicle and do not touch any metal
  • If you must get out, jump clear, then shuffle slowly away
until lines are deenergized, the operator may be safest in machine

Can We Be Safe Around Buried Utilities?
Contact can cause explosion, fire, electrocution.

Before digging
  • Call electrical, gas, and communications utilities
  • Review marked out areas. They may not be exact. Dig by hand within 2 feet of mark-out.
When digging, look for:

Signs of previous digging: changes in soil types, asphalt patches or depressions, concrete, plastic, or gravel

If a line is hit, you must report it

If it's a gas line, evacuate and secure area, call fire department