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Clearing vegetation

This information is for untrained persons who might cut, trim or treat trees or other foliage near overhead electric lines. Examples include:

  • a householder trimming a tree on private property
  • a building or road contractor clearing or trimming vegetation
  • a council work crew clearing, planting or treating vegetation
  • someone picking fruit from trees.

If you have an electrical work license you could still be classed as an untrained person with regard to exclusion zones.

Requirements for untrained persons

A person should:

  • not allow any part of their body or anything they are holding or have attached to their body to enter the exclusion zone
  • not trim trees or manage vegetation where any part of the tree or vegetation to be treated or worked with is within the exclusion zone
  • not trim trees or manage vegetation where any part of the tree or vegetation could fall or otherwise be carried into the exclusion zone.

Hazard identification

You should follow a basic risk management process as stated in the Electrical safety code of practice 2013 - Managing electrical risks in the workplace (PDF, 385.51 KB):

  • Treat all power lines as live
  • Look at the site and identify hazards
  • Assess the risk of injuring yourself and other workers
  • Use appropriate control measures.

You should not do this sort of work if any part of the vegetation is within the exclusion zone or where it could fall or be carried into that area.

Potentially dangerous situations could include:

  • wind or wet weather pushing vegetation into the safe approach distance
  • obstacles preventing safe access
  • cutting equipment such as chainsaws kicking back or moving inadvertently
  • the boom of an elevating work platform or cherry picker straying into exclusion zones.

Control measures

Keep yourself and anything you are holding outside the exclusion zone. This is an important control measure.

Other examples of possible control measures include:

  • Ask the electricity distributor to isolate lines and apparatus
  • Have the distributor do the work
  • Use equipment designed for particular risks
  • Control traffic that hinders safe access.

For more examples of measures when clearing vegetation, read the Electrical safety code of practice 2020 - Working near overhead and underground electric lines (PDF, 476.8 KB).

Last updated
28 April 2020

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