bucket truck tree

Landscaping Safety – Part 2: Rocks around the box

Apr 29, 2021, 19:37 PM

Spring is here and for many Albertans that means it’s time to maintain and beautify your yards. If your landscaping plans include the placement of ornaments or large rocks near electrical equipment such as utility boxes, FortisAlberta wants to ensure you do so safely.

In part 2 of our Landscaping Safety series, we provide a few guidelines to follow when landscaping around utility boxes to avoid creating an electrical hazard and to ensure our workers have unobstructed access during power outages, maintenance or other required service.

Don’t Block the Box

As with any vegetation that is planted too close to utility boxes, large rocks or ornaments can create tripping hazards and access issues for our Power Line Technicians.

When planning the placement of large rocks and ornaments, ensure that at least four metres of area in front of the equipment doors and at least 1.5 metres on both sides and the back are clear so that our Power Line Technicians can safely complete their work, whether it’s routine maintenance or responding to a power outage or emergency.

Small rocks or gravel that create a relatively flat surface around utility boxes are acceptable as they should not create any access or safety concerns.

transform your garden

blockinggreenbox
The above image shows a small utility box (a secondary pedestal) with landscaping that encroaches on the minimum 1.5-metre clearing distance required to safely access the equipment. In the event of an outage or maintenance, our Power Line Technicians may have to remove anything that hinders their ability to open the pedestal door or poses a tripping hazard when operating the equipment. 

padmounttransformer

The above utility boxes (a padmounted transformer and secondary pedestal) have adequate side and back clearance, however the large ornamental rock in front of the transformer door may have to be removed in the event of an outage or maintenance as it encroaches on the four-metre clear distance required for our Power Line Technicians to safely access and operate the equipment.

plttool
When operating equipment such as a padmounted transformer, our Power Line Technicians may use a telescopic tool that requires at least four metres of clear space in front of the transformer door. The area should be clear of large rocks, ornaments and plants that inhibit access and/or create a tripping hazard. 

The same clearance requirements apply to streetlight standards and power poles. 

If you have any questions regarding the current or future placement of plants, shrubs and trees and the potential impact on our electrical facilities in your yard, please contact 310-WIRE (9473). 

Planting Trees around Electrical Facilities  
 
When planting trees in your yard, it’s important to consider the future growth of each tree. Is there a chance that the tree’s roots may grow deep enough (0.3 metres) to interfere with underground cables and wires? Is there a chance the tree may ultimately grow into the overhead power lines and cause outages?  
 
bucket truck tree
If planting tall-growing trees, ensure they are rooted at least eight metres from power lines as we require a minimum six-metre side clearance from the edge of the tree’s foliage at maturity to the power line and/or power pole. 
diagram tree planting

For more information on safely planting trees around our facilities, see our guidelines here

Maintaining and beautifying your yard is important to you and, because your safety is of the utmost importance to us, we want to ensure you know how to properly plan landscaping and planting around our electrical facilities such as padmounted transformers, secondary pedestals, switching cubicles, streetlights, power poles and overhead power lines. By following these guidelines, FortisAlberta Technicians are able to restore power more quickly in the event of a power outage with unobstructed access to the equipment. 

Workplace

Staying Safe in the Workplace

Operating heavy machinery around power lines can lead to serious injuries. We provide training to help you stay safe.

Read more