Spate of network collisions sparks safety plea

SA Power Networks, powerline collision

Ergon Energy area manager Charlie Casa is appealing to truck drivers and machinery operators to be vigilant when they’re working around overhead powerlines after another spate of incidents in Far North Queensland.

On July 15, a cane hauling truck contacted high-voltage powerlines near Mutchilba and a grader hit a power pole in the area earlier this month.

“We don’t want to see anyone get hurt or killed because of an accidental contact with powerlines,” Mr Casa said.

“The consequences can be devastating for families, workmates and communities and there is absolutely no room for complacency.”

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Mr Casa said recent incidents in the region should be a wake-up call for sugar industry workers in the early stages of the crushing.

“We understand it’s a busy time and there’s a lot going on, but taking some time to plan work around powerlines could save lives,” he said.

“We’ve made sure everything you need is at your fingertips – our overhead powerline mapping tool is available at where you can also request free safety advice or powerline markers for high-risk sites.

“If you’re operating machinery near high-voltage powerlines, you should be aware of exclusion zones and use safety observers.”

After hundreds of vehicle contacts with powerlines, poles and pillar boxes across Queensland since the beginning of the year, Ergon is reminding everyone to take care and stay line aware.

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“We want to stop these incidents from happening in the first place, but if you’re involved in an accident that brings down powerlines it’s important you know what to do,” he said.

“The safest course of action is to stay in the vehicle, call 000 and wait for help. If you’re a bystander, for your own safety you need to stay at least ten metres away from fallen powerlines.”

Even if there is no obvious damage, people who are involved in an incident and fail to report it may unwittingly be putting themselves and others at risk.

Mr Casa said there could be underlying damage to electrical assets that poses a public safety risk or has the potential to cause a power outage down the track and there’s also a risk of pyrolysis, which could cause tyres to explode after a vehicle has contacted powerlines.

Any machine that comes into contact with the electricity network should be isolated for 24 hours as a precaution.

“Electricity is invisible and a silent killer–please don’t underestimate the risks. Take care and stay line aware,” Mr Casa said.

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