Young worker shares near-fatal electrical experience for safety awareness

Jason Daniels electricity awareness
Jason Daniels and his mother

A young Dalby farm worker is sharing his confronting story of a near-fatal workplace electrical incident to raise awareness and give other young Queensland workers a voice.

Industrial Relations Minister Grace Grace today announced the release of Jason Daniels’ story – an eight-minute film that highlights electrical safety issues and the importance of young workers being heard.

Warning: Some viewers may find the below video distressing.

Jason was 17 when the grain auger he was moving contacted an overhead powerline. The massive electrical shock put him in hospital for two months, including time in intensive care, with serious burns.

“Contact with overhead powerlines is one of the most persistent and problematic electrical safety risks in Queensland,” Ms Grace told an industry launch in Toowoomba today.

“Despite his youth, Jason raised his safety concerns about the auger and the powerline but was told there was no time to lower it.

“Being ignored almost cost him his life.”

A couple of years, multiple skin grafts and lots of physio later, Jason is well on the road to recovery. His next step is telling his story through this film in a bid to make farm workers to take a second to think about safety, especially when it comes to electricity.

“I want to warn others about the risks of working near overhead powerlines and get young workers to speak up if they believe the work they are doing is unsafe,” Jason said.

“Trust me, a serious workplace injury like mine has a major impact on you, your family, and your mates.”

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In the past six years, 52 serious electrical incidents have happened in Queensland involving overhead powerlines, and six people have died. People most at risk are farmers, construction workers and transport workers.

AgForce Workforce and Safety Committee Chair James Stinson echoed the safety calls.

“Many tasks on farm are often high pressure and time critical, which makes safety and clear communication even more important,” he said.

“It’s vital the benefits of agriculture’s flexible lifestyle and the seemingly casual nature of rural life don’t result in a relaxed approach to safety, especially electrical safety.”

“It’s important producers take the time to identify potential risks on farm, power lines near sheds and silos, for example, and communicate these clearly to all staff, no matter of how long they have worked with you.”

“Using simple measures like flags or obtaining moving aerial markers are important, effective tools.”

The safety film is part of a suite that WorkSafe Queensland produces to change attitudes towards working safely and promote positive behavioural change.

The films are shown on worksites at pre-shift “toolbox talks” and in safety meetings, with some individual films having up to half-a-million views.

Ms Grace said the State Government’s Electrical Safety Office continued to work with energy networks, industry associations, the agricultural industry and community groups to increase awareness and improve work practices near overhead powerlines.