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Masked workers looking up at overhead power lines and Backhoe digging trench
Survey your job site every day to find overhead power lines, poles and guy wires, and point them out to coworkers. Be alert for lines hidden by trees and buildings.
Consider all overhead power lines to be energized and potentially dangerous. Injuries or death may result from contact with any power line, even the service lines that run from utility poles to buildings.
Always maintain a minimum 10-foot safety clearance from power lines, plus the length of any tools or equipment you are using. Metal ladders, cranes and some other specialized equipment require at least 20 feet of clearance and encroachment prevention precautions.
Higher voltages also may require greater distances. Contact MIOSHA for specific requirements. Contact Consumers Energy at 800-477-5050 to verify voltages and request overhead assistance.
Clearly mark boundaries with tape, signs or barricades, and use a dedicated spotter to keep equipment the required distance away.
Hitting a buried utility facility has serious consequences. Contacting an underground power line can result in electrical injuries and power outages. And even just scraping a buried natural gas pipeline could lead to a fire or explosion.
Notify 811 before you dig. If the job involves digging or moving earth in any way—such as digging foundations, setting postholes or removing tree stumps—be sure to notify 811 before starting your excavation. Call MISS DIG 811 or place an online ticket request at Then wait at least three business days before digging (excluding weekends and legal holidays) for underground utility facilities to be marked, so you can dig a safe distance away from them.
Make sure your excavation site is clearly described on your locate request. White lining or staking the dig site can help.
Hand dig to verify marked facilities. Before excavating within 48 inches of each indicated outside edge of marked utility facilities, you must first carefully expose the facilities and verify their precise location. Use reasonable care and soft excavation methods: hand digging or vacuum equipment.
Hand dig with a rounded shovel, using a gentle prying motion to break away soil as you approach the utility from the side.
Call Consumers Energy if your excavation damages a buried facility in any way. Even a minor nick, cut or scrape requires this.
811 Know what's below. Call before you dig.
Additional safety guidelines, instructional videos and training tools are available at Consumers Energy's Work Safe website.