A new film launched by Queensland’s Electrical Safety Office this month addresses overhead powerline risks on rural worksites and what can happen if you get too close to them.
ESO head Donna Heelan said the case study film Jason Daniels’ story was raw and confronting and showed how quickly life changed for a teenager and his family when the grain auger he was moving contacted an overhead powerline.
Jason was just 17 years old when the very preventable incident occurred. Even though it was his first job working on a small farm, that didn’t stop him asking several times if he should lower the auger before moving it, but he was told there was no time.
“Not listening to Jason and not taking a few extra minutes almost cost him his life after he received electric shock. He clinically died and was revived in hospital,” Ms Heelan said.
“In the early stages, he was in an induced coma having suffered serious burns and losing four toes. Jason spent two months in hospital, with stints in ICU and the burns unit, and had nine operations.
“Doctors told Jason his body is older than it should be and he needs to be careful of his heart, kidneys and liver. He now lives with painful arthritis and his joints ache.”
A couple of years, multiple skin grafts and lots of physio later, Jason is on the road to recovery and he wants to tell his story to change the attitudes and behaviours of farm workers about safety.
“I want to warn others about the risks of working near overhead powerlines and getting young workers to speak up if they believe the work they are doing is unsafe,” Jason said.
“Trust me, a serious injury like mine has a major impact on the workers themselves, their families, colleagues and friends.”
Jason’s mother Di stands beside her son helping deliver heartfelt safety messages.
“In a heartbeat your life can change, so take the time, take that two minutes,” she warns.
Through it all the lad from Dalby has maintained his sense of humour. In the film he’s asked what he misses the most: “My toes,” responds a smiling Jason as his family and friends break into laughter.
Ms Heelan said that in the last six years in Queensland, there had been 52 serious electrical incidents involving overhead powerlines with six fatalities.
“Contact with overhead powerlines is one of the most persistent and problematic electrical safety risks in Queensland,” she said. “And you don’t actually have to come into direct contact with overhead lines – remember, electricity can jump.”