Electrical lineworkers licensed for the first time in Victoria

Father and sons, Jack, Dean and Riley Savage with Minister for Energy, Environment and Climate Change, Lily D’Ambrosio

More than 2000 electrical lineworkers (including cable jointers) have signed up to receive their first lineworker licence under Energy Safe Victoria’s (ESV) new licensing regime, which commenced on January 1, 2021.

The first licences have been presented to lineworkers by the Minister for Energy, Environment and Climate Change, Lily D’Ambrosio.

The new regime is part of a four year, $2.5 million commitment from the Victorian Government to support workplace safety for lineworkers. It is the first of its kind for lineworkers in Victoria and replaces the existing voluntary registration system, making the lineworkers’ licensing requirements consistent with electricians.

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“ESV has carried out significant awareness campaigns to ensure all lineworkers are aware of the new licensing requirements,” ESV Commission Chair Marnie Williams said.

“From 1 January, unlicensed lineworkers must down tools until they have applied and received a licence.”

Lineworkers and cable jointers carry out high-risk work, often facing extreme weather conditions to keep electricity flowing into homes and businesses. To avoid outages on electrical networks, they can work on ‘live’ high voltage assets of up to 500kV. This work can be undertaken at heights or in confined spaces for several hours at a time, sometimes in poor light and hazardous weather conditions.

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Despite the risks, Victoria has the lowest number lineworker fatalities nationally, with three deaths in the last 20 years. The new licensing regime will help to keep Victoria the safest state, with the objective of zero fatalities into the future.

The regime was developed through comprehensive industry, stakeholder and public consultation and will give ESV greater oversight of the industry. Lineworkers will be required to have the minimum qualifications and experience required to work safely on distribution, transmission and traction networks.

Improved workforce data through the administration of the regime will also allow ESV to analyse potential trends and emerging safety risks affecting the workforce, as well as maintain professional standards to keep both the workforce and the community safe.

ESV will administer and enforce the lineworker licensing regime, with greater regulatory oversight as a result of its new commission structure, which also commenced on 1 January 2021.