Alarming rise in electrical incidents

Published: 29 Apr 2016 10:27am

Ergon Energy is urging workers in the building and construction industries to Look Up and Live after an alarming rise in electrical related incidents.

Ergon Senior Community Health and Safety Advisor, Glen Cook said the number of incidents in these industries jumped almost 50% in 2015.

“The statistics are very concerning. Workers are often on roofs with long lengths of roofing materials such as guttering or flashing that have potential to contact nearby powerlines, resulting in electric shock causing severe injuries or worse, electrocution.

“Cranes unloading supplies at building sites could also come into contact with powerlines if proper safety procedures are not followed,” he said

And as the statistics rise, Mr Cook said the traditional agricultural industry safety message also applies to the building and construction industries.

“In 2014, there were 27 reportedincidents involving contact with powerlines rising to 41 in 2015 and eight so far this year with six in March alone,“ he said.

Some of these could possibly have been avoided through simple safety precautions including:

  • always use a trained safety observer (spotter) when using machinery near powerlines, including vehicle loading cranes, excavators/backhoes and elevated work platforms.
  • taking care when working around the mains connection point of attachment to a premise where the service wires enters the house from a power pole.
  • be aware of powerlines when moving equipment and ladders around the property – including when cleaning and painting.
  • take extra care when handling roofing materials, especially in windy conditions or at heights.
  • ensure long objects such as ladders and trestle planks are carried horizontally.
  • activities such as making repairs to roofing or guttering, painting, water blasting and scaffolding can be dangerous if carried out too close to overhead service lines and powerlines
  • and never attach anything to or build around powerlines, poles, pillar boxes or other Ergon Energy equipment.

Mr Cook said Ergon’s network across regional Queensland consists of around 160,000 kilometres of powerlines and 1 million power poles and inadvertent contact with powerlines, poles and stay wires is a major risk.

“That’s why Look up and Liveis our primary safety message and awareness campaign for overhead powerlines – not just for the agricultural industry but other industries too.

“The impact of losing a loved one as a result of an electrical accident can have a disastrous effect not only on family and friends, but can have far reaching flow on effects on the entire community,” he said.

Ergon Energy has developed a range of tips to help building and construction industry workers to keep safe around network equipment and can be found here:

https://www.ergon.com.au/network/safety/business-safety/the-outdoor-workplace/working-near-powerlines

Media Contact: John Fowler
Phone: 07044328730

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