We all have the right to go home safe and well from work each and every day. Your safety around our electricity lines and cables, and gas pipes and other equipment, is a priority.

Working near power lines, cables, gas pipes and other electricity and gas equipment comes with risks. To ensure your safety and those working around you, it’s important to follow the rules.

If digging, make sure you have plans on site for all underground cables and pipelines.

There are also minimum distance rules for working near overhead power lines and power poles. These are outlined in ECP34 in the NZ Electrical Code of Practice of electrical safe distances (nzecp34).

Close approach and works agreements

The 4 metre rule for overhead power lines
Stay at least 4m away from overhead power lines. If you need to get closer, you must obtain a close approach consent.

The 2 metre rule for underground cables and pipelines
You must hand dig within 2m of cables or pipes – do not use mechanical excavation methods unless you have a standover.

Close approach consents and works agreements
Close approach consents are required for all works on the ground within 5m of a power pole, depending on the depth of the excavation. This ensures your work does not cause a pole to collapse. Consents are valid only for the location, type of work, and dates applied for.

There may be specific requirements for backfill for high voltage cables.

Close approach form


Gas pipelines

Consents are required for work within 2m of pipelines marked ‘strategic’ on underground maps.

You may also need to have a Powerco standover, where we’ll send our field crew to observe and advise your team while the work is being carried out. As part of Powerco providing a standover, a permit for work will be issued. This sets out Powerco’s expectations for you when working near the gas pipeline. These requirements are in place to keep you and your teams safe and prevent damage to
the pipeline.

Standover form

Use a Powerco approved

Even if you have electrical experience, to stay safe you must use a Powerco-approved contractor to carry out work on our electricity network, such as fuse installations, load changes, connections (temporary and permanent), disconnections and upgrades. 

Find an approved contractor


In an emergency

It's important to familarise yourself with what to do in an emergency while on the job.


If you strike an electricity cable or overhead line, or a line comes down:

  • Treat the cable or overhead line as ‘live’ and get back at least 10m
  • If you are in a machine, stay in your machine
  • If you are at serious risk from another hazard such as a fire and must leave the machine, jump well clear and do not touch the machine and the ground at the same time
  • Do not cover a broken cable or try to fix it yourself
  • Evacuate the immediate area
  • Call Powerco’s emergency electricity number immediately – 0800 27 27 27


If you hit a gas pipe, or smell or hear gas escaping:

  • Switch off all machinery and remove all sources of ignition, including mobile phones
  • Isolate the work site, including the public and traffic
  • Move well away, upwind 
  • Evacuate the immediate area
  • Leave the damaged pipe to vent
  • Do not try to cover the damaged pipe with any material, including digger buckets
  • Do not start any vehicles for removal
  • Do not attempt to extinguish ignited gas fires
  • Do not inhale fumes
  • Call Powerco’s emergency gas number immediately – 0800 111 848
Click here for the handbook, ‘Your guide to working on the road and staying alive’ published by the NZ Utilities Advisory Group, of which Powerco is a member.

Close Approach Consent 

If work on your site will be close to overhead lines or underground cables and pipes, you need to let us know by filling in the Close Approach Consent form, so we can ensure you're working safely.


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Arrange a safe disconnect

Arrange a temporary disconnection near a service line to work safely. Contact your retailer with 24 hours' notice - during business hours it's free - or follow the permanent disconnection process.


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Over-height load permits

Transporting a high load? Apply for a permit to ensure safe travel routes and plans, and notify Chorus and UltraFast Fibre. Charges may apply for escorting loads over 5.5m high.


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