Tips of the Trade Brought to you by Duke Energy
A Good Rule of Thumb

Electric Trouble/Outage
Duke Energy Carolinas:
Duke Energy Progress:
Florida: 800-228-8485
Indiana: 800-343-3525
KY/OH: 800-543-5599

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

Duke Energy Carolinas:
Duke Energy Progress:
FL: 866-372-4663
IN: 800-774-0246
KY/OH: 877-700-3853

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 Duke Energy before work begins. For specific clearance requirements visit

Don’t Forget
Power lines are not covered by or wrapped in insulation. 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.
  • OSHA analysis has determined that nearly 45% of major cases of crane accidents include boom or crane contact with energized power lines.

Would You Like to Know More?
Additional overhead and digging guidelines, case studies, instructional videos, and training tools can all be found, at no charge to you, on Duke Energy’s e-SMARTworkers website.

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For more contractor safety information, visit