Vehicle collisions with electricity assets spark safety warning

Ergon
Image: Ergon

A spate of potentially deadly incidents involving vehicles and machinery hitting electrical assets across Queensland has alarmed response crews and safety teams at Ergon Energy.

This year has already seen 350 contacts with power poles, pillar boxes and lines, from tragic motor vehicle crashes to live wires left exposed after grass slashers ripped open pillar boxes.

“There have been live lines brought down across cars, trucks and tractors, as well as dangerous instances of damage to pillar boxes from machinery and vehicles,” Ergon community safety manager Aaron Smith said.

“Any one of these situations could have resulted in further tragedy. Thankfully, in most of these cases, the people in these vehicles knew to call 000 and stay put until we could safely de-energise the lines so emergency responders could come to the rescue. The best advice is to always ‘Stay. Call. Wait’.”

Related article: Rockhampton transmission line gets $10m overhaul

Recent incidents across the state include:

  • Nearly 60 collisions involving motor vehicles, including more than a dozen in SEQ
  • More than 130 impacts from industries like ag, construction and transport, including heavy vehicles contacting poles, pillars, lines and streetlights
  • Two cases within two days in South West Qld where tractors became wedged between high-voltage conductors
  • Slashers causing major damage to pillars, leaving exposed wires, which could have injured or killed anyone in the vicinity
  • A Far North Qld driver receiving an electric shock when attempting to exit their car after a collision involving a pillar

“After an accident, the safest place is almost always inside the vehicle, as there’s a probability the outside could be live,” Mr Smith said.

Related article: Planning approval granted for Powering Sydney’s future project

“In the unlikely event that a vehicle catches fire, jump from it being very careful not to touch the car and ground at the same time, then hop or shuffle away for at least 10m making sure that both feet remain together and in contact with the ground at all times.

Bystanders also need to be extremely cautious about how they can help at a crash scene.  

“If there’s any possibility electrical equipment is involved, stay at least 10 metres away – it’s not just the vehicle that can be live, but also the ground around it. Call 000, and our crews and emergency personnel will be there ASAP,” Mr Smith said.

Prevention is always the best defence: one way industries such as farming and construction can manage risk is with Ergon and Energex’s award-winning online mapping application lookupandlive.com.au, which pinpoints the location of 178,000km of overhead powerlines and 1.7 million poles across Queensland.