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Safety Mangement

Overhead and Excavation

Important information for construction zones.

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Call 811 before you dig if you have a project that requires excavation. Visit the Call 811 website for more information.

Field Safety

TEP is dedicated to providing reliable service to our customers and to maintaining the safety of our employees and our equipment.

Before the first boom is lifted or the first spade of dirt is moved, it is imperative to consider if any electrical safety precautions are needed. Call TEP before any construction, excavation, demolition or other work is performed at a work site that may involve TEP facilities or equipment.

TEP field employees will meet at no cost with property owners, builders or contractors at a work site to discuss safety concerns related to TEP equipment. TEP can implement preventative measures that can help protect against injury and preserve the integrity of TEP electrical equipment that serves our community.

When TEP determines it necessary, TEP can de-energize or reconfigure TEP electrical equipment at or near a work site. Calling TEP before you begin any construction can help prevent unintended outages, injury, property damage and potential liability.

Overhead — Requirements Overview

The requirements described in this section are not intended to and do not alter any responsibilities or safety obligations imposed under applicable law, including the requirements of the High Voltage Power Lines and Safety Restrictions Act at A.R.S. §40-360.41 et. seq.

When working near TEP overhead equipment, minimum approach distances must be maintained to help protect both the worker and TEP equipment. These distances will vary depending on the qualifications of the requestor and line voltages. Upon request, TEP will provide voltage and line height information. Contractors with a current A-17 Electrical and Transmission Line contractor license issued by the Arizona Registrar of Contractors (AROC) will be allowed to work in closer proximity to TEP facilities and equipment than requestors without such a license, except when work requires the use of equipment such as a crane or derrick defined by OSHA 29 C.F.R. §1926.1400. Due to OSHA regulation 29 C.F.R. §1926.1408, OSHA prohibits any non-utility worker from operating a crane or derrick within the OSHA minimum approach distance of TEP energized overhead facilities and/or equipment.

When to Contact TEP

In addition to the minimum approach distances, review the following guidelines on when to contact TEP under the OSHA Rule:

  1. If the work zone defined by OSHA involving a crane or derrick is greater than 20 ft. away from TEP overhead facilities for voltages from 50 V-350 kV, or greater than 50 ft. for voltages above 350 kV, then no additional actions are needed from the utility.
  2. If the work zone defined by OSHA involving a crane or derrick is less than 20 ft. away from TEP overhead facilities for voltages from 50 V-350 kV, or less than 50 ft. for voltages above 350 kV, but does not violate OSHA's minimum approach distance, then the requestor should contact TEP as described below. TEP will review the plan and determine if actions are needed from the utility.
  3. If the work zone defined by OSHA involving a crane or derrick will violate OSHA's minimum approach distance, then requestor should contact TEP as described in Table 1.

Table 1:Minimum Approach Distances for Requestors without an AROC A-17 Electrical
and Transmission Line License, and Requestors Using a Crane or Derrick

Line Voltage Minimum Approach Distance Crane Standard
50 V - 50 kV 10 ft. 10 ft.
50 kV - 200 kV 15 ft. 15 ft.
200 kV - 350 kV 20 ft. 20ft.
350 kV - 500 kV 27 ft. 25 ft.

View a diagram illustrating the Overhead Forbidden Zone – PDF 1053 KB

The minimum approach distance can be described as the radius of a circle centered on the overhead conductor or wire. No person, equipment or material should violate this radius. A violation may result in equipment damage, severe injury or death.

Applicants should contact TEP with any questions or concerns regarding overhead protection, or to arrange for overhead protection measures.

Step 1 – Complete an Application

Complete the online application which includes submitting a work plan description and sketch of the work site. You will need to generate a sketch to upload with the completed form. View a sample overhead sketch.

Once we receive your application, a TEP representative will attempt to contact you within approximately one business day to schedule an on-site meeting.

Step 2 – Meet With a Representative

Once contact is made, our TEP representative will arrange to meet with you at the work site within five business days. At this initial on-site meeting, the TEP representative will identify applicable conductor heights and voltages, review the scope of the proposed work and discuss safe practices to use near TEP equipment. At this meeting, the TEP representative also will determine if work can safely proceed as described in the submitted work plan or if an alternative plan or safety measures are necessary.

In instances when TEP identifies a safety concern related to TEP's equipment associated with the proposed work plan, one of the following alternatives may be followed as TEP deems appropriate:

  • TEP can de-energize and ground TEP overhead equipment. The applicant is responsible for any applicable costs. TEP will provide an estimate for any billable work, payment for which is due before TEP begins the work. Once TEP's system adjustments are complete and the applicant begins work near TEP equipment, TEP may require that a monitor is present while the applicant's work is performed.
  • TEP can temporarily move TEP overhead equipment. The applicant is responsible for any applicable costs. TEP will provide an estimate for any billable work, payment for which is due before TEP begins the work. Once TEP's system adjustments are complete and the applicant begins work near TEP equipment, TEP may require that a monitor is present while the applicant's work is performed.
  • The applicant can alter the work plan to avoid violating minimum approach distances and address any other safety concerns related to TEP's equipment and then resubmit their revised work plan to TEP for review.
  • A qualified electrical contractor with a current AROC A-17 Electrical and Transmission Line license, not requiring the use of a crane or derrick, may perform the work. The electrical contractor must submit a written description of its new work plan and coordinate with TEP before performing any work near TEP's electrical equipment. This may include acquiring a "hold for orders" if needed. The high voltage contractor must follow all OSHA, NESC and all other applicable legal and regulatory guidelines and requirements.
Step 3 – Review Safety Measures

If the TEP representative determines that work can be performed without violating minimum approach distances, then the applicant can proceed once a mutually agreeable work plan has been signed by both TEP and the applicant.

In situations where TEP line crews have completed grounding or temporary relocation of equipment, a TEP representative will conduct a detailed "protection briefing" meeting with the applicant that includes information about equipment that is grounded, locations where equipment remains energized, and working rules around TEP equipment.

Once TEP and the applicant have agreed upon a work plan, schedule, and the overhead safety measures that have been implemented, both parties will sign the protection briefing, and the applicant will be allowed to proceed with its work.

TEP recognizes that work conditions can change during the construction phase of a project. If such changing conditions potentially affect TEP equipment and/or associated safety measures taken, work at a job site should stop until these conditions have been reevaluated by a TEP representative.

It is important for TEP and the applicant to maintain clear, ongoing communications at all times while work is being conducted in the vicinity of TEP equipment. In emergency situations, TEP reserves the right to stop overhead protection at any time, including by re-energizing one or more lines, to maintain system reliability. In this case, a TEP representative will notify the applicant that the line(s) will be re-energized and the applicant's work will have to wait until TEP reinstates the overhead protection.

Step 4 – Call For Removal

On job sites where additional safety measures are implemented, the applicant should contact TEP for removal of such additional safety measures when the applicant's work has been completed.

Excavation — Requirements Overview

The requirements described in this section are not intended to and do not alter any responsibilities or safety obligations imposed under applicable law, including those under the Arizona Blue Stake laws. Please also see the Underground tab (to the right of Excavation) for more information on blue stake requirements.

When excavating near aboveground TEP facilities, exercise great caution to ensure poles, anchors and other equipment are not damaged or otherwise compromised. Soil type, the depth of TEP electrical equipment, the depth of excavation and the amount of force exerted on poles and anchors should all be considered before any excavation work begins. Digging too closely to a power pole, for example, can weaken the soil that holds the pole in place and compromise the pole's stability.

There are many factors to determine when protection is needed on TEP facilities, so a simple ratio of 2.5’ of horizontal distance from a pole or anchor to 1’ of depth can be applied. If the excavation will exceed the allowable depth per the distance ratio, then notify TEP by following the instructions below for a TEP Overhead / Excavation coordinator to evaluate work plan and determine what protection, if any, is needed.

Applicants should contact TEP with any questions or concerns regarding excavation protection, or to arrange for excavation protection measures.

Step 1 – Complete an Application

Complete the online application which includes submitting a work plan description and sketch of the work site. You will need to generate a sketch to upload with the completed form. View a sample excavation sketch.

Once we receive your application, a TEP representative will attempt to contact you within approximately one business day to schedule an on-site meeting.

Step 2 – Meet With a Representative

Once contact is made, our TEP representative will arrange to meet you at the work site within five business days. At the initial on-site meeting, the TEP representative will review the scope of work and discuss a working plan. At this meeting, the TEP representative will also determine if work can safely proceed as described in the submitted work plan, or if an alternative plan or safety measures to protect TEP facilities are necessary.

In instances when an applicant is unable to alter the project work plan to address identified safety concerns, TEP may be able to temporarily secure electrical equipment with an "A" shaped frame or with a boom on a line truck. The applicant is responsible for any costs associated with these options. TEP will provide an estimate for any billable work associated with these options, payment for which is due before TEP begins the work.

Step 3 – Review Safety Measures

In situations where TEP line crews have installed temporary protection, a TEP representative will conduct a detailed "protection briefing" meeting with the applicant to discuss review details about the temporary protection and working rules to follow when working around TEP equipment.

Once TEP and the applicant have agreed upon a work plan, schedule, and the safety measures that have been implemented, both parties will sign the protection briefing, and the applicant will be allowed to proceed with its work.

TEP recognizes that work conditions can change during the construction phase of a project. If such changing conditions potentially affect TEP equipment and/or associated safety measures taken, work at a job site should stop until these conditions have been reevaluated by a TEP representative.

Step 4 – Call For Removal

On job sites where additional safety measures are implemented, the applicant should contact TEP for removal of such additional safety measures when the applicant's work has been completed.

View a diagram illustrating the Excavation Forbidden Zone – PDF 630 KB

Underground

Picking up a shovel before you pick up the phone can lead to unnecessary injuries, property damage and delays in your work schedule. Damaged electrical equipment can also cause power outages which can inconvenience nearby property owners for hours at a time.

Don't break ground on a project of any size until you see the distinctive lines marking the location of underground facilities at your job site.

If you have a project that requires digging or excavation, call 811 or Arizona Blue Stake at 1-800-STAKE-IT (1-800-782-5348) at least two working days before you dig so that underground facilities can be marked.

TEP will locate company-owned service lines at no charge.

Contact Us

For questions or comments, you can reach our team at bluestakecoordinatortep@tep.com or 520-917-2617.