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Working near energised electrical parts

Electrical work on an electrical installation or electrical equipment may pose a risk of inadvertent contact with adjacent energised parts.

In some circumstances the risks of carrying out electrical work near exposed energised parts can be just as great as if the work were carried out on energised electrical parts.

Where it is reasonably practicable to do so, turn off the power to the adjacent parts to eliminate the risk.

Where turning off the power is not reasonably practicable, you need to minimise the risk. This may involve a single control measure or a combination of two or more different controls.

The following factors may be taken into account in assessing risks:

  • type of work carried out and tools or equipment used
  • proximity of the work to energised parts
  • the types of tools and equipment used in the work, particularly the conductive properties of tools
  • environmental conditions such as confined space, wet surfaces or unfavourable weather
  • assessing the need to repair equipment while it remains energised, for example cleaning a low voltage switch room
  • work that may impose additional risks, for example welding or grinding that could damage adjacent electrical lines or equipment.

Electrical safety code of practice 2013 – Managing electrical risks in the workplace (PDF, 385.51 KB) provides information on the following:

  • the risk management process (Section 2)
  • specific hazards and risk control for electrical (Section 3)
  • risk controls – working near energised electrical parts (Section 8)
  • risks associated with electrical work (Appendix C).

When working near overhead or underground electric lines, you could encounter specific hazards. The Electrical safety code of practice 2020 – Working near overhead and underground electric lines (PDF, 476.8 KB) provides information on:

  • the risk management process (Section 2)
  • unsafe distances (Section 3)
  • operating plant near overhead electric lines (Section 4)
  • work near low voltage electric lines near buildings and structures (Section 5)
  • clearing vegetation near overhead electric lines (Section 6)
  • agricultural work near overhead electric lines (Section 7)
  • transportation of high loads near overhead electric lines (Section 8)
  • work near underground electric lines  (Section 9)
  • exclusion zones for overhead lines (Appendix B).
Last updated
11 May 2020

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