Overhead: Preventing Power Line
Injuries and Accidents

August 19, 2015



By Tom Hershewe

As the seasons change and chore lists begin to include tasks such as cleaning gutters, planting or trimming trees and stringing up Christmas lights, it’s important to be mindful of the power lines surrounding your home. It is very easy for a ladder or a gutter to come into contact with a power line.  The injuries you can sustain from electrical accidents can be devastating – or even fatal – but they can be avoided.

According to Kansas City Power & Light, “The primary distribution lines that bring power to your neighborhood carry between 7,200 and 7,620 volts of power and drop down to 277 or 120 volts in the line from the transformer to your house.” Too often, homeowners and even those who work in the construction, electricity or utilities business forget that power lines aren’t insulated and can be very dangerous. 

For this reason, Missouri’s legislature passed the Missouri Overhead Power Line Safety Act, which makes it illegal for an unauthorized person or entity to work or bring equipment within 10 feet of a high voltage overhead line that has not been covered or de-energized. The act also requires that anyone who performs or contracts to perform work within 10 feet of power lines notify and, if necessary, make arrangements with their electrical utilities company to either turn off the power to the house or take other precautions to guard against someone coming into contact with a live power line.

If you or someone whom you hire needs to work within 10 feet of overhead power lines, call your local utilities company about three to four days before you plan to start the work. More than likely, they’ll send a professional out to assess the situation. Your electric company may suspend power while the work is done or recommend a professional.

Failure to contact your electrical utilities company could result in some stiff fines or worse – debilitating injuries. Or, you could end up in court if you’re found responsible for someone else coming into contact with a live power line on your property.

The easiest way to avoid personal injuries is to take preventive measures. Be patient and let the professionals do their job. In the event that they haven’t, know that Dollar, Burns & Becker can provide you or your loved one with strong legal counsel.