Safety warning issued after powerline electrocution deaths

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Photo: RAMillu, Pixabay

Queensland’s safety regulator is urging caution when working near overhead powerlines after two people were killed and seven others seriously injured in incidents involving overhead power lines.

Head of Queensland’s Electrical Safety Office, Victoria Thomson said these tragedies leave families traumatised, and should never happen.

“In the most recent incident, a 28-year-old worker died after receiving an electric shock when the pruning tool he was using came into contact with powerlines,” Ms. Thomson said.

“It’s a tragic reminder to be aware of overhead powerlines and respect the safe exclusion zone distances around them. The exclusion zone around most powerlines, which is the minimum safe distance for workers and any equipment they are using, is three metres”.

“Before you start work, check for any nearby powerlines. Always bear in mind the height and length of your tools and equipment because all too often these are what enter into the exclusion zone, ending up with the person using them receiving an electrical shock”.

Ms. Thomson said the message is simple – ‘look up and live’. She said that employers should have systems in place to ensure workers were aware of the risks.

“The best way to avoid contacting powerlines is to not work underneath or near them”.

“If that isn’t feasible, employers must make sure all workers and contractors know where all powerlines are and understand the importance of exclusion zones as part of their induction to the site”.

“You could also talk to your electricity distributor about having the line de-energised while work is being done – or longer term even relocating live electric lines away from areas where work happens regularly”.

“In some instances, you can make powerlines more visible by having line markers or flags installed, and using ground markers and warning signs to remind your workers that they’re getting close to a powerline”, said Ms. Thomson.

“The use of safety observers or spotters could also help avoid plant and equipment crossing into the exclusion zone”.

“The stark reality is that these systems and safety strategies will save lives”.

For more information, visit electricalsafety.qld.gov.au or call the Electrical Safety Office on 1300 362 128.

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