US Dept of Labor

Occupational Safety & Health AdministrationWe Can Help

Best Practice: Qualified Observer


Identify and utilize qualified observer for critical tasks.


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

Back to Top

Thank You for Visiting Our Website

You are exiting the Department of Labor's Web server.

The Department of Labor does not endorse, takes no responsibility for, and exercises no control over the linked organization or its views, or contents, nor does it vouch for the accuracy or accessibility of the information contained on the destination server. The Department of Labor also cannot authorize the use of copyrighted materials contained in linked Web sites. Users must request such authorization from the sponsor of the linked Web site. Thank you for visiting our site. Please click the button below to continue.