Skip to content

Jason Daniels' story – surviving an electric shock from overhead powerlines

Jason Daniels' story – surviving an electric shock from overhead powerlines, is a film about how quickly life changed for Jason’s family when the grain auger he was moving contacted an overhead powerline.

Jason was just 17 when the serious electric shock he received from the powerline gave him horrific injuries. Jason’s mother Di Daniels recalls the devastating phone call she received on the day it happened and the struggles they have faced throughout Jason’s recovery.

Jason and Di are sharing their experience in this raw and real film to raise awareness about having a safe system of work in place before starting work and urging employers to listen when young workers speak up with safety concerns.

‘Life can change in a heartbeat’ - Di Daniels.

Download a copy of this film (MP4, 157MB)

Di: You kind of just want the best for your kids. You don't send them off to work thinking that they're not going to come home or they're going to get seriously hurt.

Jason: Hi, my name is Jason Daniels. I'm 20. I'm from, I'm from Dalby, Queensland. It was all right growing up in Dalby. I like getting out riding the bikes with my brothers, going fishing at the coast.

Di: Jason as a child, very easy going always in with the funny jokes. He always loved machinery. He always loved being outside.

Jason: So when I left school halfway through grade 10, ended up going on the truck with my Dad, for my first sort of job, then got the opportunity to go to work on the farm.

So my dream was, yeah, go work on the small farm, build up enough money, get me MC truck license and probably buy a truck.

Di: I was excited for him because it was his first actual job, something he wanted to do and he loves farming and, and all that.

Jason: First proper job with that dad. I didn't get any safety inductions, just general common sense round machinery.

The day I had my accident was the 27th of October 2017. Morning was good. Was carting bit of grain from the field into the silos because we had a road train coming into load. So we're all rushing around moving equipment, getting ready to load the truck.

And we started moving the auger and that. I turned round to the boss and said we were getting too close to overhead powerlines. I think we should lower it. And he goes, "no we don't have time" and kept going, and that's when we collided with the overhead powerline.

Di: Receiving a phone call and hearing that Jason had been in the accident. Your first thought is, is just tell me my son's alive.

Jason: All I can remember is in pain and agony. My brother-in-law Lachlan was there, he was running around trying to get help.

Di: He actually put the phone down to Jason and Jason was actually talking, which as you can imagine, as for a mum, it was kind of heartbreaking hearing the pain that he was in, but relieved at the same time that he was still with us.

Jason: So I remember the ambulance arriving on site, and then after that nothing really.

Di: Walking into the hospital, first thing I seen was his feet and they weren't a pretty sight. Beside him I seen a few burns on his shoulder and on his stomach.

And the smell is the biggest thing it was, yeah. It took me ages to get over that this, the smell of it.

They ended up putting him in an induced coma. The doctors showed me more photos because I didn't realise how bad he was burnt on the back. That's when reality really sunk in.

Jason: So the entry point is on my left leg. I lost the main muscle out of it and my exit point is out of my hands and feet.

Di: What amazes me is when I first heard about the accident, I thought the bottom of his boots would have been destroyed and amazingly enough, you've got one hole here, one here, there, and there. And then you got here and here.

So compared to what happened to his feet knowing that little points can cause so much damage when it exits.

Jason: I got airlifted from Tara to Royal Brisbane.

Di: He was in ICU for two weeks. And then he was moved to burns unit. And in the two months he had nine operations, which took a very big toll on J.

This is where Jason's lost four toes, two on this foot, two on this foot, the major muscle in his leg, then you got more burns and skin grafts here, got skin grafts here and here and your back, skin grafts, all up on his arms and then round here just slightly burnt.

Jason: I went through a lot of physio learning how to walk again and trying to build up my muscle again, in my left leg.

Di: Watching every day, him having to have physio done twice a day, learning to have to stand on his feet when they were so raw, watching him have to relearn to walk, and then get balanced and learn to do stairs again and that was just to get him home like.

It's hard, really hard.

If you see that something's not safe, speak up. Don't think that it's not right. Cause you're better off being open and speak up than something happening and your family going through what we've been through.

Fiona: Electrical infrastructure such as poles, lines and stays pose a massive risk for those working in the agriculture industry. If you don't have the option to move your lines or put them underground, then you need to assess the risk. Put a safe system of work in place and ensure that everyone knows what that is to prevent an injury.

Exclusion zones are the minimum distance we must stay away from powerlines and these change depending on the voltage of the lines and the type of work being done, you don't have to make direct contact with a powerline to receive an electric shock. Electricity can jump. So just straying into those exclusion zone is a really high risk issue. You can cause damage to plant and equipment, really serious injury to people.

If you employ young workers, please understand that they have a unique risk profile. And if they raise a safety issue with you, please take them seriously. We need to ensure that we give them plenty of encouragement to do the jobs properly, which means to do the job safely.

Baylie: When are we goin riding again?

Jason: Ah hopefully soon I reckon.

Baylie: You've been gone for a long time

Jason: Yeah

Di: Mentally he would have me he's fine but as the family knows there is a lot that he does struggle with and he's still a happy go lucky boy, but not as, not out there, like he used to be as much.

Jason: I think it's brought my family closer together, all of us. And yeah it's brought me and a few of my mates closer.

Naomi: What's been the hardest thing?

Jason: The physio side of things, yeah.

Naomi: What do you miss the most?

Jason: My toes.

I would like to get back into work. It is quite confronting that like you have to pull your boss up on something when they're a lot older than what I was at the time and you have to pull them up on a hazard like that and they just don't want to listen really.

And that's why I decided to speak up just to get an awareness out there to people working on farms and other things like that are ran with overhead powerlines or electricity.

Di: It could have been all avoided is the hardest thing.

And I want people to realise that in a heartbeat, your life can change. So take the time, take that two minutes extra to go, ‘Okay. Can we be doing this in a different way that can be more safer that no one's going to get hurt?’ and if we can get that message across, so no other one has to go through what we've been through. It's worth every minute.

More information