No excuse for abuse as power crews cop it from customers

Male Energex employee in uniform in front of white work van (abuse)
Energex worker Shaun Hales (Image: Energex)

Ergon Energy and Energex employees have reported almost as many incidents of threats, abuse or violence from members of the public in six months as they did last year, in a worrying trend for customer service workers.

Electrical fitter mechanic Shaun Hales, who works at the coalface of customer service in the energy industry, is appealing to Queenslanders to support workers who are there to help the community.

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“Most customers are helpful and courteous, but there is that small percentage of customers who make it difficult for us to do our job safely,” Hales said.

“We recently had to lock down an operational depot and our headquarters in Townsville because of threats from a customer and the number of sites across Queensland where we need a police escort for the safety of the crew has increased to nearly 900.

“Earlier this year a crew responding to a life-threatening fault at Logan was threatened by a customer with a stick and warned he’d release his guard dog if they didn’t leave the property.

“Working with electricity is dangerous enough without being distracted by people abusing you verbally or threatening you physically,” Shaun said.

After 60 reported incidents in 2022, Ergon and Energex launched a joint No excuse for abuse campaign to raise community awareness and reinforce their zero-tolerance approach to abuse, threats and violence.

This year there have already been 53 incidents of abusive or threatening behaviour reported by field crews and network contact centre team members who handle fault calls.

“Fortunately for the community we have teams available 24/7 whenever there’s a power outage or electrical emergency and they do not deserve to cop it from customers when they’re just trying to do their job, keep everyone safe and get the power back on.

“We do understand that people get frustrated if the power goes out or if there are delays, but we’re just asking for them to be patient and respectful to our teams working for the community.

Related article: “No excuse”: Ergon’s appeal to abusive customers

“It can take time to find faults and then there are procedures that we need to follow so that we can safely access the high-voltage network to fix damage and get the power back on.

“We have people driving by and hurling abuse or even objects at us through the car window or coming up to crews and threatening them with violence. We don’t deserve that— nobody does. There’s no excuse for abuse,” Shaun said.

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