Skip to content


We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you continue without changing your settings, we'll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies on the Electricity North West website. However, if you would like to, you can change your cookie settings at any time.

Continue      Find out more

Adjust text size:   A   A   A

Working safely near electricity installations

Before starting any work near to our overhead lines, please obtain a copy of our network plans.

Contact us by email, or view our Electrical Safety Advice guide.

Treat all lines as live

To the untrained eye, or without reference to plans, it is often not possible to be sure which lines contain electricity and which are phone lines.

The safe approach is to treat all overhead lines as dangerous and seek expert advice.

Please see below for our three recommended steps to working safely near to overhead electricity lines.

1. Request a guide

Use the Health and Safety Executive Guidance note GS6 - Avoidance of danger from overhead electric power lines as a guide.

To request a copy, please quote book reference ISBN 0717613488 at a bookshop or write to:

HSE Books
P.O.Box 1999
Sudbury Suffolk

This leaflet can also be downloaded free of charge from the HSE website.

2. Contact the operator of the line

You must consult the operator of the line if you will be working:

  • within 15 metres of overhead lines on steel towers;
  • within 9 metres of wood pole;
  • beneath an overhead power line.

The owner's name will often be posted on the support pole or tower and will usually be the local Regional Distribution Company or National Grid.

If in doubt, call the local Regional Electricity Company office.

All distances should be measured at ground level from a position estimated by eye to be vertically under the outer most conductor at a tower or pole position.


  • Electricity can kill! Never move poles or other long objects up towards overhead lines as sighting or measuring aids.
  • Never assume an overhead line is carrying telephone wires - some electricity lines look very similar to communication cables - some poles carry both electricity and telephone lines.

3. Request a visit from the operator

If your work will encroach upon the areas stated previously, you will need to request a visit to meet a representative of the electrcity company on site.

The representative will:

  • recommend a minimum clearance distance to the overhead line.
  • have other recommendations and advice on how to fulfill the requirements of GS6 and avoid danger. 
  • discuss and confirm arrangements with you in writing, to swicth out the line if required.

Make sure that you understand the recommendations given in terms of minimum clearances to lines and the precautions necessary while erecting barriers and during work activities.

All overhead lines and other electrical apparatus can be extremely dangerous. If you need to work near them, get competent advice.

The Energy Networks Association has a selection of leaflets including ones for Scaffolders and safe use of plant.

View a range of material giving advice and guidance on safety, produced by the Energy Networks Association

Are you a priority customer?

We appreciate that some customers have additional requirements and may have circumstances where a priority service is needed for a variety of reasons.

Learn more

Knowledge centre

Find answers to questions about Electricity North West, including details on electricity connections, power cuts and general enquiries.

Check out frequently asked questions and our user guides.

Read more

Major incident

Engineers are working to restore power to properties after severe flooding in Lancashire and Rochdale.

We are doing everything we can to restore power and we'll update you regularly on our news section and TwitterFor emergencies, please call us on 0800 195 4141.