Safety for horticulturalists and pickers

Look out, look up! – Minimum approach distances

Horticulture can be hazardous, and working around transmission lines increases the danger. Electricity can arc through the air even without direct contact. High voltage electricity flowing into trees can also cause them to ignite. Trees and shrubs should be kept clear of lines at all times – and people shouldn’t get too close either. Treat every power line as live at all times.

Know your property

Locate all the lines that pass over your property. Find out what voltage they are.

Manage growth

Trees and vegetation must always be more than 4 metres away from 110kV lines, and 6 metres away from 220kV lines. Vegetation management is a key part of keeping safe around transmission lines and towers. Trees growing too close to power lines may cause:

  • a fault which will affect the operation of the line
  • injury or death to someone near the tree
  • damage to land and property.

Never touch or trim a tree you think may be closer than the minimum safe distance to a power line. If you are unsure, or unable to determine the voltage of lines near you, ensure you are never closer than 4 metres to any lines.

If you feel a tree is closer than the minimum safe distance to a line, get in touch with us and we will point you to an approved expert who can carry out the trimming safely. Also, get in touch with us if you want to discuss safe ways to manage vegetation or trees.

Work safely around and under lines

Be cautious when moving vehicles with elevated platforms (e.g. grain augers, ladders, drills and dump truck beds).  Always have lifting equipment in a lowered position before moving it under lines. Know where the lines are.

Select a safe route when moving tall machinery – a route where the transmission lines are high enough to give at least a 4 metre clearance (or a 6 metre clearance if it’s a 220 kV line). 

More information is available here.

  • Vegetation must not be within 4 metres of 110 kV lines, or 6 metres of 220 kV lines
  • Any part of any mobile plant or load carried must be at least 4 metres away from 110 kV lines, and 6 metres away from 220 kV lines.
  • If the mobile plant contains a person (e.g. a cherrypicker), the required minimum safe distance for all lines is 6 metres.
  • If you don’t know the voltage of the lines, stay 6m away.

Keep your workers safe

It’s important that you make your workers aware of the dangers posed by working around transmission lines.

We’ve produced a guide for you to help educate seasonal pickers.

Safety signage available

We have warning signs available to you, as well as warning stickers for mobile plant. Education is critical to keeping people safe around our lines – we encourage you to use the signs on fences and gates where mobile plant may pass. Contact us and we’ll get some to you.

Electrical Safe Distances are set out in New Zealand Electrical Code of Practice 34 (NZECP 34:2001).