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Ten-Foot Rule

Protecting workers from accidental contact with power lines.

Oregon Administrative Rule (OAR) 437-003-0047

Oregon has a law which was made to help protect those who should not work near power lines from becoming injured by doing so. Oregon Administrative Rule (OAR) 437-003-0047 is one of the most important pieces of legislation ever created to help protect unqualified workers from accidental contact with power lines.

Some interesting notes of the rule include:

  • For lines energized at 600 volts and above, a minimum of 10-feet must be maintained by all employees and equipment at all times, including movement of lines or equipment due to machinery movement, wind or anything that can cause the distance from the lines to change.
  • Any time a company intends to work in close proximity to power lines, they must first contact the utility company at least two working days in advance.
  • Lines must be guarded by protective barriers; or de-energized and grounded before non-qualified employees may enter the restricted space.

The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) advises the best protection is lots of space. Don't operate equipment around overhead power lines unless you are authorized and trained to do so. You should also let OTEC know when you’re working within 10 feet of power lines.

OSHA provides these general guidelines:

  • When working near overhead power lines, the use of non-conductive fiberglass ladders is recommended.
  • If an object (scaffolds, cranes, etc.) must be moved near overhead power lines, appoint a worker whose sole responsibility is to observe the clearance between the power lines and the object. Warn others if the minimum distance is not maintained.
  • Never touch an overhead line if it has been brought down by machinery or has fallen. Never assume lines are dead.
  • When a machine is in contact with an overhead line, DO NOT allow anyone to come near or touch the machine. Stay away from the machine and contact your local OTEC office.
  • If you should be in a vehicle in contact with an overhead power line, DON'T LEAVE THE VEHICLE. As long as you stay inside and avoid touching outside metal, you should avoid an electrical hazard. If you need to exit to summon help or because of fire, jump out without touching any wires or the exterior, keep your feet close together, and shuffle slowly or hop to safety.
  • If you’re planning to build a home or other structures near power lines, call your local OTEC office.