Safety for Contractors

Contractors often need to work near our networks, whether it’s laying broadband cables, working on roads, demolishing or erecting buildings.

Because of this, contractors have a high risk of serious injury. If you are a contractor, or work for a contractor, you must know what’s above or below you before starting work.

Power lines

Electricity can arc through equipment without ever touching power lines. This can result in serious injuries or death. It’s crucial that people, and the plant and equipment they are using, is kept at least 4 metres from power lines at all times.


If you are doing any digging in the roads or roadsides, or within properties, you must locate buried cables or gas lines first.

Use the free beforeUdig service to find out where underground cables and gas mains are. They will send you detailed plans showing strategic assets.  Please do this at least 48 hours before starting work or if you want our assistance.

Mark out locations from plans and before starting work. Always hand dig first to expose cables and pipes. If you have hand-dug and are still unsure where the cables or gas mains are, call Powerco on 0800 769 372.

Click here for Your Guide to Working on the Road and Staying Alive booklet, published by the New Zealand Utilities Advisory Group.

Close Approach Consent

Contractors may require a Close Approach Consent if working near gas or electricity networks.

You must apply at least two working days before starting the work. Close Approach Consents are usually valid for a maximum of one week. We can advise minimum approach distances and whether you require an observer.

Apply online for a Close Approach Consent if you plan to carry out any of the following.

• Working within 4m of overhead power lines
• Digging within 5m of any electrical or gas asset (pole, switch, transformer, cables and gas lines)
• Digging near important underground power cables. These are marked ‘strategic’ on plans and include 11KV (and above) cables and located within 1km of a zone substation
• Trimming or felling trees near power lines

The online application is for an appointment for our contractor to meet your contractor on site.  Our contractor will assess the work you are doing and issue a permit while on site.

Over-height load permits

Transport companies moving over-height loads throughout the Powerco network are required to apply for an Over-height Load Permit to ensure travel conditions are safe and appropriate.

More information can be found in this NZ Transport Agency fact sheet

Terms and Conditions are applied by the service provider if escorted loads are required. This is classified as Customer Initiated Works where the service provider charges companies directly for the service.

Click here to apply for an over-height  load permit.

Fibre cables may be present on power poles as well. Contact Chorus on 0800 822 124, or go to its website, and UltraFast Fibre to advise them of your high load. 

In an emergency

Gas emergencies

Gas is lighter than air. It is not toxic and has a distinct smell. Gas is however dangerous in two ways:

• In high concentrations, there may not be enough air left to breathe.
• It is highly flammable, and can ignite if it is between 5% to 15% concentration in the air. It can be ignited by a wide range of things, from a flame to a truck or car engine or mobile phone.

If you smell gas:

• Move quickly to a safe distance until you can no longer smell the gas. If it’s windy, move in the direction the wind is coming from until you no longer smell gas.
• Remove any ignition sources if time.
• Call the emergency services on 111, or Powerco on 0800 111 848 (24-hours-a-day).
• Control the site – keep the public away.
• Attend to any injuries.

Electrical emergencies

If a person has come into contact with power lines, call the emergency services on 111 and Powerco (0800 27 27 27) immediately. Do not attempt to touch the person, or try to free them from the lines, or you could get hurt as well. Wait till the emergency services arrive.

Stay at least 8 metres away from any downed lines at all times.

Last Updated: 16 Aug 2017 - 12:27:26