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Planning for Work Around High-Voltage Equipment? “Plan for 10”

Electricity can flow through objects such as cranes and other heavy equipment that touch power lines. It can also jump across a gap from a line to an object that is close by.

Incidents involving contact with high-voltage equipment like power lines and conductors can cause severe injury to workers and others. Sometimes they are fatal. Recent incidents in New Zealand, Ireland, and the US illustrate the serious hazards involved in working around power lines. Learn more about these incidents by following the links at the end of this post.

Plan for 10” refers to the general rule for safe limits of approach – typically 10 feet (3 meters) – when working around high-voltage electrical equipment or conductors. However, the safe limits of approach depend on the voltage, so the 10 feet (3 meter) rule is not applicable in all situations.

Working around power lines requires careful planning and can involve consulting with utility companies to accurately determine the voltage, obtaining municipal permits and approvals, and submitting a completed 30M33 form to WorkSafeBC.

WorkSafeBC has developed “Plan for 10” resources and guidance to help workers, employers, contractors, municipalities and supervisors understand their responsibilities and the planning requirements for safely working around high-voltage equipment.

BC Crane Safety Pilot Project

BC Crane Safety (BCACS) is basing a pilot version of a new SkillRecord Passport app on “Plan for 10”. The app will make it easier than ever to assess, document, and verify crane operator competencies. Phase two of the project is under development.

BC Crane Safety has also created handy “Plan for 10” eye-glass/LMI cleaning cloths and magnets that help keep safety top of mind when working around high voltage equipment. Get up to three of each by contacting us at

Occupational Health and Safety Regulation and Related Materials

Sections of the WorkSafeBC Occupational Health and Safety Regulation that apply working around electrical hazards are:

Recent Incidents

Four recent incidents in New Zealand, Ireland and the US were related to crane contact with power lines. Two were fatal, another caused severe injury, and one caused an area power outage.