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Best Practice: Qualified Observer



Identify and utilize qualified observer for critical tasks.

PRACTICE DESCRIPTION: A member of the crew shall be identified to act as an observer to ensure clearances are maintained, PPE, and effective cover-up is installed. The observer shall be capable of the identifying nominal voltages, energized components, minimum approach distances, and proper safe work practices while crewmembers are working on energized lines.

NOTE: This section is not intended to mandate staffing requirements.
  1. The term "effective cover up" is used to describe the installation of phase-to-phase rated insulated protective cover on energized conductors and/or equipment of different potentials when the lineman is within reaching distance or in areas extended by handling conductive objects.
  2. The term extended reach is used to describe being within five feet of energized conductors and/or equipment or having a conductive object within five feet of energized conductors and/or equipment
  • Eliminate injuries from unrecognized hazards or changes in conditions.
  • Clarify duties and provides guidance as to when observers are beneficial.
  • Provides guidance on observer qualifications.


The ET&D Partnership maintains a Web site in support of this Partnership. For more information on Best Practices visit Powerlinesafety.org

Page last updated: 04/15/2010