Smarter Power > Safety First

Power line safety

Phone 0800 248 148 in an emergency.

Power lines are part of our everyday lives – without them, we wouldn’t be able to heat our homes or keep the lights on at work.

But touching any type of overhead electric line can cause serious injury or death. That’s why it’s so important to always keep a safe distance from these lines, even if they look like they're insulated.

How can you make sure you and your whānau are staying safe?

Follow the four metre rule

All activity must be kept at least 4 metres away from overhead power lines. You must apply for a Close Approach Consent at least five working days prior if any people, equipment, machinery, or scaffolding are going to be any closer than 4 metres from our power lines.

  • Only arborists authorised by us are allowed to trim trees within this distance of our lines.

A person doesn’t need to be touching a power line directly to be electrocuted. Items can become electrified and shock anyone touching them, and high voltage electricity can jump gaps.

Stay aware, stay alive

Even if you don’t need a Close Approach Consent, you must ALWAYS maintain a safe distance (as set out in the New Zealand Electrical Code of Practice for Electrical Safe Distances (NZECP 34:2001)) from any nearby electric lines.

  • This includes those owned by other parties such as Transpower or privately-owned service lines supplying individual properties.

Keep an eye on the height of power lines crossing driveways to prevent contact with these when driving trucks and other large vehicles in or out of properties.

Work safely around your home

When working on your own property, you'll need to:

  • get your power supply temporarily disconnected if you're working around the power line running from our pole to your home or business 
  • get your power supply permanently disconnected if you're going to be demolishing or removing the building being supplied
  • be mindful of the distance to our overhead lines and poles if you're building something.

Dig safely

Safety around overhead lines is non-negotiable, and the same applies when working below ground.


To dig safely, there are several steps you'll need to follow.

Find out more

✅ Working safely around your home

You can arrange to have your own power supply temporarily disconnected free of charge. You’ll need this to safely undertake roofing, spouting, painting, water blasting, tree trimming, scaffolding or any other work around the power line running from the pole to your home or business (known as a service line).

You can request this via your electricity retailer, who may charge you an administration fee to process the request. Please note that you will need to be present when we attend.

You may also be able to:

  • arrange for the line to be sleeved with ‘tiger tails’ by a private contractor if isolation isn't possible, but only if any work being carried out is at least half a metre away from the service line
  • hire a professional arborist to trim trees around your service line. Approved arborists will usually be able to do this without needing a temporary disconnection.
The safest option is always to contact your electricity retailer so that we can come and turn off the power to your property.

Working on site

⬆️ Look up and live.

Always follow the conditions of a Close Approach Consent, but remember that even this doesn’t guarantee workers’ safety.

Follow these tips to protect everyone on site:

  • Note the position of all overhead lines and power poles in the area.
  • Check each day that nothing’s changed. If something has, address it before work starts.
  • Make sure people know how close to lines they’re allowed to work (including the use of height access equipment and operation of mobile plant).
  • Affix an approved warning notice in an obvious place to any mobile plant being used near power lines.
  • Always have a competent safety observer on hand who can easily communicate with workers.
  • Monitor weather conditions closely – power lines can sag in extreme heat and sway in strong winds.
  • Secure height access equipment to prevent unauthorised access.


⚠️ Remember

Everyone who works near overhead power lines has a legal requirement to maintain the minimum safe distances set out in NZECP 34:2001.

If you don’t, you might get an electric shock or experience a flashover, fire, or explosion – all of which can cause life-altering injuries such as severe burns, or even death.

You might be held liable for any damage caused, along with any indirect losses incurred from power outages which impact our communities. WorkSafe may also impose fines or initiate criminal proceedings.


Frequently Asked Questions

In an emergency

If you hit an electricity cable or overhead line:

  • Treat the cable or line as live and get back at least 10 metres.
  • Evacuate the immediate area but keep watch of the site to make sure nobody goes near.
  • If you’re in a machine, stay in it.
  • If you must leave the machine because of fire or other danger, jump clear so that you do not touch the machine and the ground at the same time. Land with your feet together, and shuffle away keeping both feet on the ground, close together.
  • DO NOT attempt to cover or fix a damaged cable.
  • Phone us straight away on 0800 248 148. Call 111 if someone’s in immediate danger.
  • Make sure you complete your own incident report and provide us with any requested information.

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