Electrical Hazards; Keep your team safe.

  • 18 October 2019

Electrical Hazards while operating EWP Elevated Work Platforms, making the workplace safer.


Any hazard assessment must identify:

  • All overhead power lines near the workplace
  • All trees, structures and work positions that are within 4 metres of the power lines.
  • Trees can conduct electricity if they are too close to or touch live power lines.
  • All safety plans must include these identified hazards and give details of how the hazards are controlled.
  • Treat all overhead power lines as being live, unless the power company that owns the power lines formally advises that the lines are safe.


  • Never work within 4 metres of any power line without first contacting the power company. Written consent is required from the power company before any work can be done within 4 metres of the power line. A copy of the consent must be on site at all times.


If any MEWP is likely to get closer than 6.4 metres to an overhead power line, make sure:

  • Operators, the MEWP including loads, attachments, tools and equipment, and all work activity must stay at least 4 metres away from any overhead power lines. This is called the minimum approach distance (MAD)
  • Hazard controls are in place to make sure no one and nothing can enter the 4 metre no-go zone (MAD)
  • The area between 6.4 and 4 metres from the overhead power line is separated from the workspace using cones or tape to show where the exclusion zone is.
  • The safety plan explains how the MEWP will be used so the operator can always see the power lines.
  • All operators of machines are briefed on limits to their movements and they must understand only specific operators can work in the exclusion.


  • Anyone working in the exclusion zone must be competent to operate the specific type of MEWP used, be thoroughly briefed and must understand the dangers of working near overhead power lines.
  • A competent safety observer must be present at all times to make sure everyone and everything (including the MEWP and tools) stay out of the 4 metre no-go zone (MAD).
  • The safety observer must be able to alert the MEWP operator immediately if they are about to enter the 4 metre no-go zone (MAD).
  • Operators working with MEWPs in the exclusion zone (4–6.4m) must obey any instructions given by the safety observer.
  • People working in the safety observer role must not do any other task at the same time.
  • Operators must not use mobile phones or electronic equipment of any kind to avoid being distracted.
  • Operators must not wear clothing that could block their vision or movement in any way while working in the exclusion zone.
  • Everyone must treat power lines as live until the power company can formally advise that any line is safe.


If a MEWP does touch overhead power lines, anyone in the MEWP should stay there and warn any others nearby to stay clear. If it is safe to do so, operate the controls to break contact.

If it is not safe to break contact:

  • Call for help, warning everyone to keep well clear of the machine
  • Stay put until the power company can deenergise the line and advise that it is safe to get off the MEWP.

If help is not immediately available, electrical contact cannot be broken and there is an urgent reason to get off the MEWP (such as fire):

  • Switch off the motor and – where applicable – apply brakes
  • Remove any loose clothing
  • Climb to a point on the MEWP where you can safely jump to the ground about 1 metre above the ground
  • Jump so that you are well clear of the platform before any part of you touches the ground
  • Fall away from the MEWP and not towards it do not touch the MEWP until the power company advises it is safe to do so.


Further information on how to use mobile plant safely around power lines is on the Electricity Engineers Association’s (EEA) website at www.eea.co.nz. The EEA Guide for Non-Electricity Industry Employees Using Mobile Plant Near Power Lines and Electricity Cables explains how to avoid electrical hazards when using MEWPs near power lines. It also has information to help people identify electrical hazards. The Guide for Electricity Supply Industry Employees Using Mobile Plant gives the minimum accepted practices for competent electricity industry workers who are using MEWPs for electricity industry work.

Help to protect your team today.

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