Farmers and workers have been issued with an urgent callout to plan harvest activities with overhead powerline risks in mind after one worker was killed and six others hospitalised in Central Queensland.
An investigation has commenced into the fatal incident in which a pineapple harvester contacted overhead lines on a farm near Yeppoon. One worker was electrocuted, and six others received electric shocks.
Other recent incidents involving sugar cane harvesters and cane trailer tippers contacting overhead powerlines and straying into exclusion zones are also being investigated. Last year, forty per cent of all overhead powerline contacts were in the sugar industry.
If you are working near overhead powerlines with machinery taller than 4.6 metres, your machinery could breach the safe exclusion zone, putting you at serious risk. All powerlines carry potentially lethal voltages. Talk to your electricity distributor about options for moving your powerlines or making them safer if work must be done near to them.
How to work safely around powerlines:
- Plan the work – assess the risks and put effective risk control measures in place.
- Check and make sure everyone knows the heights of all farm machinery (place stickers in visible locations with machinery heights as a reminder).
- Find out and make sure everyone knows where overhead powerlines are on your property and how high they are. Download the Look up and Live tool for maps showing overhead powerline locations with their voltages and exclusion zone information
- Contact your electricity distributor for safety advice, including painting power poles and installing visible markers such as a Rotamarkas (see Ergon Energy powerline markers and YouTube/Rotamarka).
- Use the practical advice in the Electrical Safety Code of Practice 2020 - working near overhead and underground electric lines (PDF, 0.47 MB) and the Rural Plant Code of Practice 2004 (PDF, 0.63 MB).
For more information and safety advice, contact:
- Energex 13 12 53, firstname.lastname@example.org
- Ergon Energy 13 74 66, email@example.com
- Essential Energy 13 23 91, firstname.lastname@example.org
- Powerlink 1800 635 369
- Electrical Safety Office 1300 362 128
The Queensland Farmers Federation (QFF) currently has a rebate program which offers a co-contribution up to a maximum of $300 for farmers installing Rotamarkas. Eligibility criteria apply and applications close 16 December 2021. Find out more at QFF website.