Ladders & Power Line Safety

Ladders are great tools for cleaning gutters, painting, roof repairs, putting up antennas and hanging holiday decorations. But sometimes work areas are near electric lines -- the overhead lines between poles in the utility right of way or the overhead lines that supply electricity to your home. And these lines don't mix with ladders.

Here are some tips to keep you safe:

  • Before you use a ladder, check the area carefully for power lines or other electrical equipment. Visibly locate all power lines, especially those near tree branches that may obstruct your view. Pick a safe route to carry the ladder to the work area, then carry it horizontally—never upright.
  • Keep all ladders and other tools in the SAFE ZONE, at least 10 feet from any power lines. Put it up only where you have to work. Always make sure that, if the ladder fell, it would not contact any power lines or other electrical equipment.
  • Remember that tree branches near high-voltage power lines can conduct electricity. Never lean your ladder against a tree or tree branch that is contacting or near a power line.
  • Don't count on a wooden ladder to protect you. Wood will conduct electricity. So will wet, dirty and defective ladders of any kind. Fiberglass ladders are best, but even they are no guarantee of safety.
  • When you're on a ladder, your balance and control aren't at their best. Be careful with pipes, conduits, gutters, antennas and other long objects. Never hold them in a position where they could fall onto a power line. Remember that distances are deceiving from the top of a ladder and make sure you don't lift an antenna or other object up into an overhead line.

Electric Safety Campaigns

If you'd like to organize an electrical safety campaign for your organization, contact the Electrical Safety Foundation International (ESFi) for more information.