Powerlines and underground cables

Overhead powerlines and service lines

Powerlines can be difficult to see, even on bright sunny days and more so in low light, rain, cloudy weather, or at dawn or dusk.

Powerlines carry up to 330,000 volts, so the chances of survival are low for anyone exposed to them.

You don't need to come into direct contact with powerlines to receive an electric shock as electricity can 'jump' or arc across air gaps. Electricity can also flow through objects commonly regarded as poor conductors (e.g. trees or machinery).

Before you begin work outside your home, like cleaning your pool or tidying the garden, check for overhead powerlines and service lines (connected to the house), especially if you’re using long objects or ladders.

If you’re cleaning gutters or painting the fascia or bargeboards, keep well away from the service line. While these lines are usually insulated, the insulation may become brittle with age and a simple knock may cause it to break away and expose live wires.


View transcript

Electricity is invisible, so you can’t see the danger… but it can kill.

At work or at home, powerlines are part of our everyday landscape and it’s easy to forget they’re above us–and beneath our feet. If we forget about powerlines, we put lives at risk. Always treat powerlines as live or energised especially when:

  • lifting, lowering or moving items like irrigation pipes and machinery
  • tree trimming
  • using a ladder
  • setting up,launching, sailing and retrieving sail boats or
  • putting up tents or shade covers.

Remember electricity can jump… a long way… so to stay safe you must understand powerline exclusion zones and keep well out of them.

If your vehicle, equipment or materials are higher than 4.6 metres, like harvesters, elevated platforms or cranes, there’s a real risk of them contacting powerlines or electricity jumping to them.

Plan in advance to eliminate risks and avoid storing equipment or parking vehicles under powerlines or planting trees or crops nearby. Talk to the Electrical Safety Office or your electrical distributor for safety advice.

Never allow irrigation systems to spray powerlines.

Don’t build structures under powerlines - not even temporary structures.

To find out where powerlines are located on your property visit lookupandlive.com.au.

If the unexpected does happen and your vehincle contacts powerlines, stay inside, direct everyone to stay 10 metres away and call 000.

And don’t forget contact with underground cables can be just as dangerous, so call Dial Before You Dig on 1100 for details, locations and depths.

If a powerline falls, stay at least 10 meters away and call 000 for assistance.

Always treat fallen or damaged powerlines as live, even if you think they aren’t, they can become live without warning.

Be careful cleaning up after storms or severe weather as powerlines can be hidden by fallen branches or debris.

Be aware of powerlines and observe the exclusion zones.

Electricity is invisible, so you can’t see the danger… but it can kill.

Find out more at electricalsafety.qld.gov.au


Fallen powerlines

There is no indicator of whether a fallen powerline is live. In some cases, there may be sparks or arcing and in other cases there may be no sign of danger. To be safe, always treat them as live.

Always keep well clear of powerlines, even if they are draped across a tree or fence and contact your electricity distributor immediately so an emergency repair crew can be sent.

Energex General enquiries

Power outages

Electrical emergency
13 12 53

13 62 62

13 19 62
Essential Energy   1300 359 779
Ergon Energy Network General enquiries

Power outages

Electrical emergency
13 74 66

13 22 96

13 16 70

Alert others to prevent them from approaching the fallen powerlines. Working or investigating a power outage around the property at night can be hazardous due to unseen fallen powerlines.

If a machine or vehicle comes into contact with powerlines, learn what you need to do to stay safe.

Look up and Live

The Look up and Live map can help you plan work near powerlines. It can help minimise contact and reduce the risk of injury or death from electrocution and damage to equipment.

Look Up and Live

Underground cables

Before excavation starts:

  • Contact Before You Dig Australia (BYDA) for current information about any underground essential services at or near where excavation work is to be done.
  • Use advice about underground electrical cables such as location, type, depth and work restrictions to excavate safely.
  • Make sure advice about underground electrical cables is given to anyone else involved.

For excavation works:

  • Visually locate cables by potholing using non-mechanical excavation (hydrovac or hand tools) to prove the exact location.
  • Watch out for warning signs of underground electrical cables such as orange tape, conduits, sand or other markers.
  • Be aware that underground electrical cables and conduits may not be at the original depth because of changes in ground levels.
  • If you encounter an underground electrical cable, don't move it. Contact your electricity distributor immediately and follow their advice.
  • Ensure that you give advice about the location of underground electrical cables to anyone engaged to carry out the excavation work.
  • If you contact an underground electrical cable don't move it – contact your electricity distributor immediately and follow their advice.
You must still take care even if you have checked with an information service such as Before You Dig Australia. Not all underground electrical cables are identified by such a service, for example privately owned underground electrical cables.