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ESV calls for better preparedness following rise in powerline-contact incidents

Sunday 16 April 2023 at 11:10 pm

Energy Safe Victoria is calling on the community, particularly heavy machinery operators, to take better care around powerlines following a 21 per cent increase in incidents in 2022.

Energy Safe’s Look Up and Live campaign educates on the dangers of vehicles, such as tipper trucks, cranes and tractors, operating too close to powerlines increasing the threat of electrical shock or fatal electrocution.

Energy Safe recorded a 21 per cent increase in incidents from 214 in 2021 to 260 in 2022.

This included the death of a man in Malvern East in February 2022, who was electrocuted after making contact with powerlines.

There have already been 48 incidents recorded in January and February this year.

Of the 260 incidents in 2022, 165 involved overhead powerlines. The most common machinery involved excavators with 88 incidents, followed by hand tools (28), tipper trucks (20) and rubbish trucks (17).

ESV CEO Leanne Hughson said powerline-contact incidents were all avoidable, with most cases caused by distraction, inexperience, tight deadlines, laziness and sun glare.

Ms Hughson said the fact that someone had tragically lost their life should be enough for workers to take better care around powerlines.

“Unfortunately, distractions and the need to get things done quickly have unnecessarily cost Victorians their lives in recent years,” Ms Hughson said.

“It’s so easy to forget that the simple act of looking up and checking to location of powerlines before you start work, could save your life.”

For those operating heavy plant machinery that comes into contact with a powerline, stay inside the vehicle and call for help.

Those outside the vehicle, should stay at least eight metres away, as they can still be shocked when approaching the vehicle.

Below are a few simple safety tips to avoid an incident:

  • Understanding No Go Zones, rules and distances for safety clearances near overhead powerlines.
  • Ensure an Energy-safe-registered spotter is on hand when working near overhead powerlines.
  • Display Look up and live stickers on any machinery or equipment, which is raised overhead.
  • Remember that powerlines are more difficult to see at dawn and dusk and that electricity can jump gaps.
  • Be extra aware in rural areas as overhead powerlines are predominantly single conductor lines that are difficult to see and easy to forget.

For more information go to https://esv.vic.gov.au/campaigns/look-up-and-live/

Media contact: Adrian Bernecich 0437 729 194