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Working near power lines

Building cranes on construction site

If you work around electricity, know the 3 keys of electrical safety

  1. Look up and down: Plan your work so you can avoid contact with power lines. Make sure you look for power lines overhead and underground.
  2. Stay back: Keep a safe distance from the lines. Follow WorkSafeBC Regulation and stay back the appropriate distance from power lines and electrical equipment.
  3. Call for help:If you come across a fallen power line, an exposed underground power line, or an object comes into contact with a power line, stay back 10 metres (33 feet) and call 911. If your equipment contacts a line, stay calm and stay still until help arrives.

We may be able to temporarily disconnect our low voltage service line to your home if you’re trimming your trees or doing roofing or painting near our line.

Before you begin your work, call BC Hydro Express Connect at 1 877 520 1355. If you’re working near high voltage equipment you should review WorkSafeBC’s guide to planning work around high-voltage equipment.

What’s a safe distance from a power line?

Electricity can flow through objects that are touching power lines and can move across a gap from a line to an object that is close by.

The minimum safe distance to prevent this from happening is called the “limits of approach” and it is determined by:

  1. The voltage of the line
  2. The proximity of the worker and equipment

Do you work near power lines? Register for our free electrical safety courses.

Stay safe, maintain compliance with WorkSafeBC

For work near exposed electrical equipment like high-voltage power lines or conductors, WorkSafeBC Regulation specifies the safe limits of approach which are safe distances that need to be maintained by any person, tool, machine or material. That includes equipment like ladders, power tools, scaffolding, cranes, and machinery. This also applies to anyone who hires contractors to perform work near power lines around their home or business.

WorkSafeBC’s general limits of approach

Voltage phase to phase
Minimum distance
Over 750 V to 75 kV 3 10
Over 75 kV to 250 kV 4.5 15
Over 250 kV to 550 kV 6 20

If you need to work near the limits of approach

Before working near power lines, call BC Hydro Express Connect at 1 877 520 1355. If the minimum distance in the table above cannot be maintained, then an assurance in writing must be obtained using form 30M33.

If you don’t know the voltage of a power line, stay back at least 3 metres or 10 feet (6 metres or 20 feet from a transmission line) until BC Hydro has verified the voltage. We’ll work with you to determine what steps are necessary to protect you and help you to maintain your compliance with WorkSafeBC Regulation.

For high voltage lines our representative will visit your site to discuss the hazards and help you navigate the WorkSafeBC Assurance in Writing (30M33) process. In most cases we can provide you with alternatives to help you stay safe and maintain your compliance with WorkSafeBC Regulation. Information on the process and timelines can be found in our course Working with BC Hydro on WorkSafeBC’s 30M33 Process.

Questions regarding the “Assurance in Writing” process, and your responsibilities when you have a 30M33 in effect, should be directed to WorkSafeBC.

Get the safety training you need

We offer free electrical safety awareness courses for workers to teach you how to work safely around high voltage lines, what to do if you or a co-worker makes contact with electricity and the WorkSafe BC’s 30M33 process.

Learn more and register online for our free electrical safety awareness courses.