High Voltage Electrocutions


Construction workers are at risk of electrocution on the job. Electrocutions cause about 7% of on-the-job deaths among construction laborers, 73% of which are from contact with high voltage (over 600 volts) overhead power lines.


Laborers can come into contact with high voltage electricity when loading and unloading materials, working around power lines, electrical boxes and substations, drilling into concealed conductors in walls or soil with jackhammers, and trimming, felling or bucking trees with operating equipment (e.g., front –end-loaders). Workers can contact high voltage lines directly, but most often the contact is made with ladders, scaffolds, tools, rebar, pipe/conduits, metal beams, taglines, aerial buckets or cranes.

Overhead power lines and transmission equipment pose very serious hazards. OSHA prohibits the operation of equipment within ten feet (further for lines over 50 KV) of electrical distribution or transmission lines rated 50 kilovolts or less-unless the lines have been de-energized and visibly grounded at the point of work, or insulated barriers have been installed.


Only qualified electricians who have been instructed in lockout and tag out procedures should work on high voltage sources.

Exercise extreme caution when working in the vicinity of a power line. You must treat all power lines as “hot” unless you know they are properly de-energized and grounded.

Electrical installations over 600 volts that are open to unqualified persons must be surrounded with a metal enclosure or enclosed in a vault and controlled by a lock.

Ensure that over current devices are devices accessible and not located where they create an employee safety hazard.

Ensure that fuses and circuit breakers are located or shielded so that employees will not be burned or otherwise injured by their operation (e.g., arcing).


In order to protect yourself from electrocution, remember to:

Make sure that electrical lines are de-energized.

Ensure that the line remains de-energized with a lockout and tag out procedure.

Use insulated protective equipment when working on or near high voltage circuits.

Keep a safe distance from energized line.

Electricity is an extremely powerful tool. Keep it from becoming a deadly one by recognized hazards and taking the necessary safety precautions.