Electrocution is one of the top five causes of workplace deaths in the U.S. According to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), electrocution in the workplace accounts for 7 percent of all traumatic work-related deaths.

In addition, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported in 1998 that 6 percent of all worker deaths were caused by electrocution. Contact with overhead power lines accounted for about half of these deaths.

Plan Ahead

  • Anticipate any potential safety problems by surveying the job site
  • Know in advance where the circuit breakers and fuses are so they can be quickly reached in case of emergency
  • Stay outside the hazard zone around power lines
  • Have lines barricaded or temporarily de-energized, if possible
  • Call before you dig
    • In Tennessee it is a state law that you must call before digging to make sure you know the location of any underground utilities
    • In Tennessee call 811 for a dig/locate request
    • For general information, you may visit Call 811.
  • Continually warn others about nearby power lines and other electrical hazards

Keep Your Distance

  • Before digging, call 811 to request underground electric and other utilities be located.
  • While operating a boom or crane, don't rely on ground rods, warning devices, or insulating boom guards to protect you from a power line contact
    • Designate someone to be responsible to direct you away from power lines
  • While working with poles, ladders, or antennas, make sure they clear lines by at least ten feet in every direction
    • Under some circumstances, electricity can arc to equipment that is close to a power line—even if it is not touching the line
  • Stand clear of and avoid touching equipment, guide wires, and loads, which will instantly conduct electricity if they hit a power line
    • If you're guiding a load, be aware of the location of the crane boom and power lines
  • Avoid touching equipment, guide wires, or loads near power lines
    • If equipment hits a line, workers standing on the ground are in greatest danger of shock