PECO Tips of the Trade

Overhead Power Line Clearances

811. Know what's below. Call before you dig.

In case of emergency, call PECO at 800-841-4141.


The Deal on Clearances

Maintaining the proper clearance from overhead power lines is not only critical to a safe work environment, it’s the law. So, how do you determine the correct clearance distance? Here are some good rules of thumb:

  • If the overhead line is 50 kV or less, stay at least 10 feet away. This clearance distance is 20 feet for cranes and derricks used in construction unless you have taken OSHA-mandated encroachment prevention precautions.
  • Keep all equipment at least 20 feet away from lines carrying 50 kV to 350 kV.
  • For lines carrying more than 350 kV, keep a minimum distance of 50 feet.

If you are unsure of the power line’s voltage, contact PECO before work begins. For specific clearance requirements, visit

Don’t Forget

Power lines are not insulated. Always consider them energized and dangerous. Any contact with overhead lines could cause serious injury to operators and ground crew.

Did You Know?

  • A typical distribution line along a roadway may contain voltages ranging from 7,000 volts up to 138,000 volts.
  • Major transmission lines can be as high as 500,000 volts.
  • Direct and indirect contact with power lines is the most common cause of electrocution.

Would You Like to Know More?

Additional digging guidelines, case studies, instructional videos and training tools can all be found, at no charge to you, on PECO’s e-SMARTworkers website.

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