Work safely in the vicinity of live electrical apparatus as a non-electrical worker

Training Requirements

Who needs to be trained?

  • Any person who operates item(s) of crane or plant within the minimum safe working distance; and
  • Any person who observes the operation of a crane within the minimum safe working distance

What training must be done?

UETDREL006 – Work safely in the vicinity of live electrical apparatus as a non-electrical worker; and
UETDRRF004 – Perform rescue from a live LV panel; and
HLTAID009 – Provide cardiopulmonary resuscitation.

Course Duration

Initial – Crane and Plant for Operators and Observers Training Course: 2 Days.
Refresher – Crane and Plant for Operators and Observers Training Course: 1 Day.

Minimum safe working distances

All crane, plant and load must maintain the following minimum safe working distances from energised electrical apparatus.

These clearances serve an important function. However, they are not practicable for certain workers. Those who successfully undertake this unit of competency and maintain their annual training & assessments can work within the Accredited Person Zone in accordance with all of the detailed conditions.

Note: Evidence of compliance is now required when tendering for Local Governments, Electrical Supply Authorities, Statutory Authorities, Government Departments and Major Construction Contracts

Why is crane and plant safety so important?

There are strict guidelines for performing any type of work around electrical apparatus due to the significant risk of injury. In the wrong hands, electrical equipment can be deadly. Safety is incredibly important, and all workers need to understand the minimum safe distance from power lines in NSW.

Live electrical apparatus, such as overhead power lines, can cause electrocution. In some instances, cranes and other mobile plant equipment can become ‘live’, meaning electricity tried to pass through them to the ground. If this occurs, all areas near the vehicle can be electrified.

Other objects can also transmit electricity, too, so it’s crucial that all workers undertake appropriate electrical safety training.

What types of plant equipment are covered?

While cranes are the most common vehicles to be close to overhead power lines, plenty of other machines and vehicles become a hazard. Essentially, any vehicle working in the general area of power lines can be at risk. So this includes trucks, forklifts, earthmoving equipment, elevated work platforms and more.

In this context, we’re talking specifically about working on overhead power lines as an NSW energy distribution network employee. But the same safety precautions should be adhered to when performing agricultural work, construction, tree and vegetation management, etc. If there’s a power line nearby, you must ensure an 8-metre clearance zone unless you are accredited to work closer.

The safe work zones for cranes and plant

Due to the risk of injury, electrocution or death when dealing with high-voltage electrical apparatus, Safe Work Australia has some guidelines for managing who can work in certain areas. These are known as safe approach zones and are categorised as follows:

Zone C: This is the area closest to the power lines and must be avoided. It’s known as the ‘No Go Zone’ because no person or part of a person should enter the area while the electrical apparatus is energised. The Electrical Supply Authority must provide approval even for authorised and trained operators to enter this zone.

Zone B: Zone B is still risky to work in, but it is further away from the power lines than Zone C. Authorised people who have undertaken the appropriate training can work in this space. The proper training includes any recognised course dealing with overhead line electrical hazards. You can gain this accreditation by completing our Crane and Plant Safety course.

Zone A: This area is essentially on the ground, as far away from power lines as possible. This area is for unauthorised persons who have not undertaken proper safety training. Typically, this area is reserved for safety observers who are a crucial part of any work being conducted on power lines, even from Zone B.

Safety equipment requirements

Safety observers and other personnel must adhere to strict safety equipment guidelines even in the safest areas, such as Zone A. Anybody in touch with the crane or plant equipment should wear insulated gloves as a minimum requirement. This applies to crane operators also. Workers should also stand on rubber-insulated mats or equipotential mats to ensure their safety.

This precautionary measure prevents injury or electrocution that may occur if a piece of machinery or other vehicle begins conducting electricity to the ground.

Please Note, WHS Regulation 2017:

Chapter 4 > Part 4.7 > Division 7 > Section 166

A person conducting a business or undertaking at a workplace must ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, that no person, plant or thing at the workplace comes within an unsafe distance of an overhead or underground electric line. Maximum penalty— (a) in the case of an individual — 70 penalty units, or (b) in the case of a body corporate — 345 penalty units.

If it is not reasonably practicable to ensure the safe distance of a person, plant or thing from an overhead or underground electric line, the person conducting the business or undertaking at the workplace must ensure that— (a) a risk assessment is conducted in relation to the proposed work, and (b) control measures implemented are consistent with (i) the risk assessment, and (ii) if an electricity supply authority is responsible for the electric line, any requirements of the authority. Maximum penalty— (a) in the case of an individual — 70 penalty units, or (b) in the case of a body corporate — 345 penalty units.