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Pacific Gas and Electric
Tips of the Trade
PG&E's COVID-19 Response
Fall 2020: Everyone's resources have been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. You can help prevent delays by pre-marking your proposed dig area in white and notifying 811 of your planned excavation with as much lead time as possible: up to 14 calendar days in California.
To learn more about PG&E's response to COVID-19, click here.
Are Overhead Power Lines Covered with Insulation? NO!
Power Lines are Not Covered with an Insulating Material

Most overhead power lines are made of either copper or highly conductive aluminum with a steel core—and they are NOT covered with an insulating material. If you look up at a utility pole or tower, you may not be able to identify which lines are communication cables and which are energized wires. You should assume that any wire on a utility pole or tower is energized and dangerous, and to stay away. All downed wires should also be considered energized and dangerous so stay far away from them as well and call 911 immediately.

Power Lines

Order a FREE worker safety training kit on the PG&E e-SMARTworkers website.

Order Kit
Don’t Be Fooled by the Coating

Some power lines may appear insulated, but the coating that covers them is meant to protect the line from the elements—it does not protect people from electrical contact. Any contact with overhead lines could cause serious injury to operators and ground crew.

Distance Is Your Best Protection

Keep yourself, your tools and all equipment at least 10 feet away from overhead power lines carrying 50,000 volts or less. Higher-voltage lines require greater working distances. Contact PG&E at 1-800-743-5000 to confirm power line voltages and distance requirements for your job site.

Would You Like to Know More?

Additional digging guidelines and training tools can all be found at no charge to you on the PG&E e-SMARTworkers website.

Call 811 before you dig

Dig safe

Damage to a natural gas pipeline can cause a gas leak that can result in a fire, explosion and/or injuries.
Call 811 or use the online ticket system at at least two working days (not including the date of notification) prior to starting work.

Make the call

If you suspect a gas leak or if you contact a gas pipeline or electric power line, call 911 immediately then PG&E at: 1-800-743-5000.

Stay alert and look up

Keep yourself and all tools and equipment at least 10 feet away from overhead power lines. Only qualified line-clearance tree trimmers can work in the 10-foot safety zone.
For more contractor safety information, visit
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