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Must-Know Power Line Safety Tips for Arborists

August 19th, 2020

Every year, overgrown trees make contact with power lines causing more than 70,000 hours of outage time, not to mention electrical hazards including fires, arc flashes and downed lines.

While certified utility arborists are trained to safely maintain trees and vegetation growing near power lines, arborists without this designation are at risk of devastating injury or even death.

The Danger Above

The tools and equipment used to maintain tall-growing trees, such as handsaws and pruning shears, can conduct electricity and put arborists at risk of being electrocuted. In some cases, the entire tree and surrounding area can become energized and anyone working or passing by below are also at risk of severe electrical burns, loss of limbs and death.

Even if you don’t directly make contact, electricity can arc or “jump” from the line to your equipment. Arc flashes expel deadly amounts of energy and release explosive sound and pressure waves, sometimes with enough strength to knock workers off balance and rupture eardrums.

The 7-Metre Safe Rule

No matter your experience level or pressure to get the job done, you should never work within 7 metres of an overhead power line. Being aware of branches growing near power lines is just as important; if they’ve grown within 3 metres of the line, keep clear and call your local utility company.

Note: Under Alberta’s legislation, you have the right to refuse unsafe work that requires you to come within 7 metres of an overhead power line. Learn more about your rights on site.

The Danger Below

Need to excavate or remove a tree trunk? Before you break ground, always request a locate from Alberta One-Call and have underground registered utilities marked.

Whether you’re new on site or a seasoned professional, maintaining a safe work environment should always be your top priority — especially when working near overhead or underground power lines. Check out our online safety tutorials and earn free swag for you and your crew!

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Contact Map

Think power line contacts are few and far between? Think again.
See the overhead and underground contacts occurring near you.

The Joint Utility Safety Team (JUST) is a partnership between the following Alberta electric utilities with contributions from local municipalities, formed to address the frequency of power line contacts across the province.