Our safety videos

Check out our safety videos on electrical hazard awareness for emergency service personnel, urban and rural workers.

Transcript

Electricity is a vital source of energy used daily by millions of Australian households, institutions and businesses.  

While the Australian electricity network is one of the safest and most reliable in the world it is not without its dangers in emergency situations. Awareness of the potential hazards posed by electricity can mean the difference between life and death.

This DVD has been produced to provide emergency services personnel with a level of awareness about the dangers electricity may create, allowing you and your colleagues to get on with saving the lives of others, without putting your own at risk.

Overhead powerlines are such a part of our urban and rural landscapes that we often take them for granted. While most members of the public are aware of the possible dangers posed by overhead powerlines, clear thinking in times of crisis is rare.

During emergencies powerlines can be a major hazard. They can also be deadly.

Can you hear me? It’s the Police.

Yeah

Are you ok?

Yeah I think so.

Stay in the car for me. The powerlines are down and if you get out it looks like you might get hurt ok. So you got to stay until we get the power turned off.

Yeah radio, the vehicle is into a power pole. Two persons injured, confirmed trapped. We require emergency services including ambulance, rescue and fire fighters as well.

 
Report all incidents where powerlines are down to your communications centre, providing as many details of your location as possible.

This will help electricity personnel isolate the problem area more quickly. Your communications centre will contact the local electricity authority and their relevant support teams. Always assume powerlines are live until proven de-energised by the local electricity authority. Keep at least eight metres away from damaged or fallen powerlines and any object they have made contact with.

Extra caution should be taken if conditions are wet and windy.

In this instance the powerlines are live and an electrical current flowing through the car to the earth has created an invisible radiating electrical field in the ground, outwards from the car.

Anyone attempting to exit the car or approach the vehicle to commence a rescue is at risk of receiving an electrical shock.

Keeping well clear undertake a risk assessment of the area to ensure no other electrical hazards are present, such as overturned or damaged pad-mount substations, kiosks, pillar boxes or underground supplied street light pillars.

Keep vehicles, personnel and members of the public a safe distance from fallen lines.

Guys, please maintain eight meters at all times thanks.

Also be aware of fallen powerlines which may recoil.

The local electricity authority is responsible for making the area safe. They will advise you of what action is required in this type of situation and when rescue can commence.

All road crews have mobile phones and two-way radios making them capable of immediate response in emergency situations.

Powerlines must be isolated before it is safe to approach the vehicle or remove injured occupants.

After power is isolated, testing and earthing is carried out to ensure lines are dead. Further tests must be conducted at the accident scene. The all-clear must be given by the electricity authority before the rescue can proceed.

Okay guys, you’re safe to move in the lines have been turned off.

Don’t endanger your life if powerlines are down or electricity is involved.

Always assume powerlines are live.

Contact your communications centre in electrical emergencies and stress the urgency of the situation.

Give your exact location and request electricity personnel to attend.

Keep the area clear and stay at least eight metres away from fallen powerlines or anything in contact with them.

Undertake a hazard and risk assessment to ensure that no other electrical hazards are present.

Wait for the okay from the electricity authority before attempting rescue.

Fire is a major cause of damage to land, property and powerlines. Fire is also a conductor of electricity. Being aware of the dangers posed by overhead powerlines during a fire can mean the difference between life and death, especially in emergency situations.

As a result of this house fire, powerlines were damaged. Luckily no one was hurt when they fell.

As fallen powerlines can electrify vehicles, posing another serious danger to emergency crews and members of the public, it’s just one more reason why it is essential to always undertake a hazard and risk assessment of an area before commencing emergency procedures.

Never park vehicles under or close to powerlines.

And keep hydraulic equipment well clear of overhead powerlines as per relevant exclusion zones.

Other electrical hazards can also occur as a result of fire. Mains explosions can occur if power is not isolated. Explosion at the point of electrical attachment is also a risk if power is not disconnected.

Electricity supply can be turned off at the main switch. In some buildings there could be more than one main switch. Turning off the main switch does not isolate the power as the conductors are still live between the point of attachment and the switchboard.

Explosion or electric shock can still occur even if the main switch has been turned off. If you are unable to gain access to the main switchboard, notify the local electricity authority through your communications centre and they will arrange to have supply disconnected.

In these types of emergency situations, turn off the main switch.

Be aware that there could be more than one main switch.

Proceed with caution as explosion or electric shock can still occur even if the main switch has been turned off.

Also be aware of illegal wiring that may not be controlled by a main switch

Extreme weather conditions can also create electrical hazards for emergency personnel. Overhead electricity networks are especially hazardous during bushfires.

High and low voltage powerlines are located in rural areas and bushland.

In your pre-fire incident plans highlight fire trails that have overhead powerlines crossing or near them.

Powerlines can sag dramatically due to the heat of bushfires.

Be on the lookout for low clearances caused by sagging lines.

One sagging line in a group is a sure sign a powerline has broken. If a sagging line is seen, warn personnel of the danger before commencing fire fighting efforts. When fighting fires also look out for fallen lines and allow for reduced visibility.

Whoa! Hold it there. We got powerlines on the ground here.

Always assume fallen powerlines are live. Don’t attempt to move a fallen powerline. Keep all personnel at least eight metres clear and find another route to reach the fire.

FireCom. This is Yarramundi one. We have arrived on scene but are unable to access the property. There’s powerlines down across the fence. Can you pass on to the electricity people that that needs expediting please.

Fences and water pipes can also be hazardous during bushfires. Powerlines in contact with wire fences can energise a fence for several kilometres.

Severe flames and dense smoke can also cause high voltage lines to arc to earth resulting in a plasma burst and a loud explosion.

Avoid working near high voltage powerlines if fire conditions are heavy or creating volumes of smoke and when fighting bushfires always assume powerlines are live.

Be on the lookout for sagging or fallen lines.

Keep personnelwell clear of fallen lines by at least eight metres and find another route to reach the fire.

Be aware that fallen powerlines may recoil.

Avoid touching fences and water pipes during bushfires.

Avoid working near high voltage lines in heavy fire conditions.

Wooden poles and cross arms can also catch fire. Fire can weaken the structure causing the lines to fall. Never stand or park vehicles beneath powerlines. Use vehicle mounted pumps and pulse the hose above the pole allowing overspray to fall on the fire. Never stand in pools of water.

And never apply a direct jet of water onto a cross arm or insulator. Use a nozzle that breaks the stream of water by at least 50%. Stand on the outside of the powerlines at least eight metres away from the base of the pole.

Although constructed according to strict fire safety regulations, substation control buildings can also catch on fire. A substation fire can involve equipment energised to high voltage levels and toxic fumes can be given off by burning insulation material. After reporting the incident to your communications centre, wait for the local electricity authority to arrive to isolate electricity supply to the substation.

Entry should not be attempted until the power has been isolated and the okay has been given.

Repairing damage from storms, gale force winds or hail is often the role of emergency service personnel.

Falling trees, branches and flying debris can damage electrical equipment and bring down live powerlines.

Have your communications centre contact the local electricity authority to isolate supply and give the all clear before moving storm debris from around powerlines.

If live wires are on the ground keep onlookers and personnel well clear.

When emergency roof repair is required be on the lookout for electrical hazards.

Take particular care with metal roofs, guttering and ladders - all excellent conductors of electricity.

Keep personnel and onlookers well clear by at least eight metres.

Wait for the power to be isolated and to be given the okay from electricity personnel before commencing cleanup.

When cleaning up after storms never touch powerlines or power attachments and be aware of the hazards solar arrays can create. A solar panel will always generate electricity during daylight hours; there is no turning it off. Keep in mind that broken panels can release energy and remember that wires that have been cut or damaged during a night time operation will become energised during daylight.

During floods, rescues are often carried out under difficult conditions.

Heavy rain and floodwaters can cause serious damage to electrical systems. Take care with aluminium rescue boats and keep equipment and personnel well away from powerlines.

Lower aerials when in floodwaters and remember that clearance between powerlines and the water is reduced as floodwaters continue to rise.

In snow country, clearances underneath powerlines can similarly be affected by heavy snowfall and snow drifts.

The railway system is another area where electricity can be hazardous during normal operations and emergencies.

If called to attend an emergency within the rail corridor the 1500 volt railway traction overhead wiring  should be treated the same as other electrical wires and assumed to be live.

Contact your control centre, which will in turn contact the railway electrical operating centre.

This centre will arrange for staff to attend the scene, isolate the power and issue the relevant permits before rescue can proceed. Unless you hold the Rail Industry Safety Induction (RISI) qualification, you must be accompanied by the appropriate railway authorised personnel to enter the rail corridor.

All personnel and onlookers should be kept well back and passengers should be told to remain inside carriages until the all clear has been given. Personnel should also keep a sharp look out for trains as they may still be operating on adjacent lines.

In extreme or life threatening situations the railways have a special procedure called a “rescue power outage” that can be introduced if you are required to urgently rescue members of the public. In this circumstance advise your control that the situation is life threatening and priority arrangement will be made to remove all sources of power to the overhead wiring.

Your control centre will advise when this has been done, to enable you to access the injured persons. Do not proceed until you have received this assurance from your control centre.

Electricity networks rely on substations to distribute supply.

Zone substation switch yards contain high voltage equipment and are located throughout rural and suburban communities.

Switch yards, sometimes prone to vandalism or unauthorised entry by people, should never be entered, whatever the reason.

Boys, stop right there! It’s the police. You’re not in any trouble but you’re in a lot of danger. Sit down on the ground for us. Just take a seat, don’t worry about the ball just sit on the ground.

Contact your control centre immediately to report unauthorised entry into a switch yard.

We have an unauthorised access by two boys into the switch yard. Could you please contact the local electricity authority to assist us down here.

Never put your own life at risk by attempting to enter. Keep the intruder in the same spot and away from all electrical equipment.

Wait for the electricity authority to arrive with access keys to open the compound and assist the persons to safety.

Just come down along this gate here and come straight out.

There are many other types of equipment that carry or conduct electricity which can be hazardous. This is particularly the case in vehicle accidents when cars have veered off the road.

Equipment used to distribute both high and low voltages are located in every suburb.

When attending accident scenes undertake a hazard and risk assessment of the area to ensure no other electrical hazards are present.

The sad reality of emergency situations is that no matter how hard we try, lives can be lost.

Under no circumstances go to the assistance of anyone who has received an electric shock. Even if the lines look dead.

Secondary deaths often occur in an attempt to help an earlier victim.

While a situation like this is extremely difficult it is vital to keep at least eight metres clear until the power has been switched off and the all clear has been given.

The aim of this DVD has been to provide emergency service personnel with a level of awareness about potential electrical hazards which can be encountered in emergency situations.

Remember, every situation is different and this DVD is only a guide to some of the possibilities. Recognising the dangers of electricity in emergency situations could save your life or the lives of others.

For more information on electrical safety contact your local electricity authority.

Transcript

Electricity is a vital source of energy used daily by millions of Australian households, businesses and farms. While the Australian electricity network is one of the safest and most reliable in the world it is not, however, without its dangers.

Every year in Australia rural workers die or are seriously injured in accidents involving live powerlines above and below the ground. But the fact is these incidents should never happen.

Because a lot of the time they happen to workers who know about the dangers of working around electricity, workers who understand the risks but still find themselves in hazardous situations.

Electricity is a necessary part of modern day rural life. We just have to be conscious of our safety when working around it. Don’t let electricity be a risk to your life or your workmates.

Always follow safe work practices, assess the risks and plan the job at hand. Above all, remember that you’re being safe, because your family needs you.

Music with truck driving on screen

We’ve just watched a fatal rural work site incident, the kind of tragedy that should never have happened but did and does too often. So what went wrong here?

The powerlines on this property, like others, carry electricity, which, if contacted can kill you.

To avoid incidents happening look around and identify where powerlines are located and mark them at ground level, before you start working outdoors.

Talk to the property owner or foreman and take note of any areas on the site which could be hazardous. Check with the property owner or foreman before moving machinery or equipment from place to place, and ensure all machinery is fully lowered before moving it.

And if need be, arrange to have the power switched off by the local electricity authority.

Sure, you might be so skilled at your job that you hardly have to think about what you’re doing anymore but this is how incidents occur.

By making contact with these overhead lines the tipper truck completed an electrical circuit, with the electricity passing through the raised trailer to earth.

And also through the worker.

The truck’s operator wasn’t electrocuted because in this case he was in the cabin and the current didn’t pass through his body to reach the ground. For the moment he was safe and knew the first thing he should do was to try and break the trailer’s contact with the powerlines. But the truck’s controls were disabled by the power surge. Even so, his best course of action was to stay put in the cabin and wait for the power to be shut off by the local electricity authority.

Only if and when there is a visible sign of fire should you get out of the cabin. In this case he jumped clear making sure he didn’t touch any part of the truck and the ground at the same time, which would have allowed the current to run through him. But even then he was not out of danger.

An electrical current flowing through the truck has created an invisible radiating electrical field in the earth, outwards from the truck. If he walked or ran, one leg would have been at a different voltage from the other and the current would have flowed through his body, causing him to receive an electric shock. The answer was to keep his feet together, in constant contact with the ground, and shuffle or hop at least eight metres away from the truck. All right, he was out of danger.

But what about his mate?

Whatever happens, don’t try to go to the assistance of anyone who has received an electric shock or let anybody else.

All too often secondary deaths can occur because others get electrocuted trying to help earlier victims.

It is a tough ask but even if it looks like the powerlines are dead, keep well clear of anything in contact with the powerline by at least eight metres, until the experts arrive.

They’re the only ones who can tell you for sure if it’s safe.

Another hazard to be aware of is the potential for tyres to explode up to 24 hours after a vehicle contacts a powerline. Create a 300 metre exclusion zone around the vehicle for a minimum of 24 hours. Following this, ensure the vehicle is thoroughly inspected for tyre and mechanical damage.

Okay, this was obviously a dramatisation but it was based on real occurrences - unnecessary, and for the most part, avoidable incidents that happen on rural properties every year to workers just like you.  

“We were harvesting and had to go pretty close under the powerlines near the fields. We’d done this plenty of times before and never touched a powerline.

Jim made sure of that because he was always a bit twitchy about powerlines.

Anyway, it was a stinking hot day and the lines got hot and sagged. About  a metre closer to the top of the harvester we found out later.  That was enough to have caused us problems even then without the rest of it.

The storm blew in and the winds really came up. It was getting close to dusk and the lines were getting harder to see.So Jim just thought he’d finish off the field and call it quits.

But the powerlines really started to sway in the wind and that’s all it took. The lines didn’t even touch the top of the harvester. They didn’t have to.

The electricity just arced across. Went straight down the harvester just as Jim was getting off.

And he copped the lot. 33 KV.

See we all thought we knew the ropes when it came to safety. We should have looked. We should have assessed the risk.

Should’ve. Could’ve…so what did we miss?

Why did it happen and why does it keep on happening? Every year rural workers die or suffer serious injuries from accidents involving live powerlines.

Workers like you, who understand the dangers of electricity. Workers who knew the powerlines were there but failed to assess the risks.

So what should have been remembered while harvesting that day?

That powerlines can sag on hot days, changing clearance levels.

That strong winds can cause powerlines to sway.

That dim light can make powerlines hard to see.

That you don’t have to be in direct contact with a powerline to be injured. Electricity can arc across open space.

And of course the same principles apply not only when operating tipper trucks and harvesters, but also when moving many other forms of agricultural machinery and equipment regularly used on rural sites.

Including, cotton module makers, grain augers, irrigation pipes and elevated work platforms.

Whenever a work site is situated near overhead powerlines or when equipment is being moved around close to them, accidental contact can occur.

When using aircraft for aerial spraying, mustering and other purposes, ensure the pilot is aware of powerline locations.

GIS data is also available from your electricity authority indicating the approximate location of powerlines

But it’s not just overhead powerlines that are a hazard. At least you can see them.

Hidden hazards lurk beneath the ground too. Rural deaths and injuries are also caused by making contact with underground cables including earths and as more and more power installations are run underground, the chances of hitting one is becoming more likely.

So what should you do?

Firstly always assume that underground cables are there until you know otherwise.

Before you start work, Dial 1100 or visit the Dial Before You Dig website , www.1100.com.au and or consult the local authority to find out the location of underground cables. Remember it’s the law, so it’s the essential first step for every job.

Validate the plans before you dig by using cable location technologies such as GPS or Ground Penetrating Radar, and mark up the differences.

Pot hole at regular intervals to confirm exact cable locations and importantly communicate the exact locations of cables to your workmates.

When using plans from Dial Before You Dig double check when they were last updated as cable depths can vary after road upgrades or new developments.

You should never drive a probe into the ground looking for cables. It may sound obvious but people actually do it and get hurt.

Sometimes you will find  sand, tape or marked bricks or panels to indicate the presence of underground cables, other times you will find a conduit or pipe with the cables enclosed inside.

Be aware that direct buried cables could also be present and that newer electrical cables are sometimes laid using old conduit.

If you think you are close to an underground power cable excavate by hand carefully and if you are excavating where cables might be use an observer but keep them well away from the hole. And of course if any underground cables are accidentally damaged don’t attempt to approach, touch or repair them.

Keep the machine operator in the cabin and clear the area by at least eight metres.

Notify the local electricity authority immediately and wait until they give the all clear before proceeding.

It is also important to remember that you don’t have to be operating high machinery or equipment to receive an electric shock.

Frayed or worn cords on power tools can also be deadly.

So always check your equipment and tools are in good working order.

Electrical wiring in sheds and other farm buildings should be regularly checked by an electrician, especially after a severe storm or bushfire. And any electrical equipment that operates near water, an excellent conductor of electricity, should also be a maintenance priority.

Electricity and powerlines are a necessary part of rural life but danger can be averted.

Whilst every situation is different, being aware of the hazards posed by powerlines and taking the necessary safety precautions can save lives. Even your own.

For further information on electrical safety and how to keep your property or work place safe, contact your local electricity authority.

Transcript

Electricity is a vital source of energy used daily by millions of Australian households, businesses and work sites. While the Australian electricity network is one of the safest and most reliable in the world it is not without its dangers.

Every year in Australia workers die or suffer serious injuries from coming into contact with live powerlines, above and below the ground. But the fact is these incidents should never happen.

Because a lot of the time they happen to workers who know about the dangers of working with electricity, workers who understand the risks, but still find themselves in hazardous situations because the right steps have not been taken to ensure their workplace safety.

Electricity is a necessary part of modern day life. We just have to be conscious of our safety when working around it. Don’t let electricity be a risk to your life. Or your workmates. Always follow safe work practices, assess the risks and plan the job at hand. Remember you’re being safe, because your family need you.

Music

We’ve just watched an incident where someone was killed. The kind of tragedy that should not have happened but did. And does too often.

What went wrong here?

The powerlines on this work site, like others, carry electricity which, if contacted, can kill you.

To avoid injuries look around and identify where powerlines are located and mark them at ground level before you start working outdoors.

Talk to your boss or foreman and take note of any areas on the site which could be hazardous. Plan safe travel paths for machinery and equipment away from powerlines. If you need to come within the safe approach distances you must arrange to have the power switched off.

Sure, you might be so skilled at your job that you hardly have to think what you’re doing anymore but this is when incidents occur.

By making contact with these overhead powerlines the crane completed an electrical circuit with the electricity passing through the crane to earth and also through the worker touching the sling. The crane operator wasn’t electrocuted because in this case he was in the cabin and the current didn’t pass through his body to reach the ground. For the moment he was safe and remembered the first thing he should do was to try and break the crane’s contact with the powerlines. But the crane’s controls were disabled by the power surge. Even so, from his training he knew the best course of action was to stay put in the cabin and wait for the power to be shut off by the local electricity authority. Only if and when there is a visible sign of fire should you get out of the cabin.

In this case he jumped clear making sure he didn’t touch any part of the crane and the ground at the same time. That would’ve allowed the current to run through him. But even then he was not out of danger.

An electrical current flowing through the crane to earth has created an invisible radiating electrical field in the earth, outwards from the crane.

If he had walked or ran, one leg would have been at a different voltage from the other and the current would have flowed through his body, causing him to receive an electric shock.

The answer was to keep his feet together, in constant contact with the ground, and shuffle or hop at least eight metres away from the crane. All right, he was out of danger. But what about his mate?

Whatever happens, don’t try and go to the assistance of anyone who has received an electric shock or let anybody else. All too often, secondary deaths can occur because others get electrocuted trying to help earlier victims.

It’s a tough ask but even if it looks like the powerlines are dead, keep well clear, by at least eight metres, until the electricity authority  arrives. They’re the only ones who can tell you for sure if it’s safe.

Another hazard to be aware of is the potential for tyres to explode up to 24 hours after a vehicle contacts a powerline. Create a 300 metre exclusion zone around the vehicle for a minimum of 24 hours. Following this, ensure the vehicle is thoroughly inspected for tyre and mechanical damage.

Okay, this was obviously a dramatisation but it was based on real occurrences - unnecessary and for the most part avoidable injuries, which happen on work sites every year to workers just like you.

We were working on this pour and we had to get boom tucked in pretty close underneath this powerline. Jacko knew that we were well inside the no go zone, but we’d done it before so we thought we’d be alright. Jacko made sure of that because he’s always a bit twitchy about powerlines.

There are also specific clearances that you must maintain which can be found in the relevant Codes of Practice.

What nobody noticed was that the powerlines had got hot– it was a stinking hot day - and they’d sagged down about a metre. We found out later. It was close enough to the boom to have caused us problems even without what happened next.

This storm was coming in - one of those big summer storms - and the wind just came up. I remember seeing the powerlines starting to sway and, well, that’s all it took. And then the powerline didn’t even touch the boom. The electricity just arced across, straight along the boom and shot down the chute straight into Jacko. Mate 33 KV.

We all thought we knew the ropes when it came to safety. We should have looked. We should have just stopped and assessed the risk. Should’ve. Could’ve… what did we miss?

Why did it happen and why does it keep on happening? Every year workers die or suffer serious injuries in incidents involving live powerlines. Workers like you, who understand the dangers of electricity. Workers who knew the powerlines were there but were put in danger because the risks had not been properly assessed.

So, what should have been remembered that day?

That powerlines can sag on hot days, changing clearance distances.

That you should always work outside of the no go zone.

That strong winds can cause powerlines to sway.

That dim light can make powerlines hard to see.

That you don’t have to be in direct contact with the powerline to be injured. Electricity can arc across open space.

All of these potential hazards should have been identified and adequate planning undertaken before work commenced on the site. And steps should have been taken to ensure contact with the powerlines didn’t occur.

And of course the same principles apply, not only when operating cranes and booms but also when moving many other forms of equipment and machinery regularly used on work sites, including scaffolding, tipper trucks and elevated work platforms.

Remember that tiger tails are only designed as a visual indicator they are basically just reminders that powerlines are present. And they do not insulate powerlines.

Whenever a work site is situated near overhead powerlines or when equipment is being moved around close to them, contact can occur.

But it’s not just overhead powerlines that are a hazard. At least you can see them.

Hidden hazards lurk beneath the ground too. Work site deaths and injuries are also caused when contact is made with underground cables including earths. And as more and more power installations are run underground the chances of hitting one is becoming more likely.

So what should you do?

Firstly, always assume that underground cables are there until you know otherwise.

Before you start work, Dial 1100 or visit the Dial Before You Dig website , www.1100.com.au and consult the local authority to find out the location of underground cables. Remember it’s the law, so it’s the essential first step for every job.

Validate the plans before you dig by using cable location technologies such as GPS or Ground Penetrating Radar and mark up the differences.

Pot hole at regular intervals to confirm exact cable locations and importantly communicate the exact locations of cables to your workmates.

When using plans from Dial Before You Dig, double check when they were

last updated as cable depths can vary after road upgrades or new developments.

You should never drive a probe into the ground looking for cables. It may sound obvious but people actually do it and get hurt.

Sometimes you will find sand, tape or marked bricks or panels to indicate the presence of underground cables,. Other times you will find a conduit or pipe with the cables enclosed inside.

Be aware that direct buried cables could also be present and that new electrical cables are sometimes laid using old conduits.

If you think you are close to an underground power cable excavate by hand carefully.

If you are excavating where cables might be, use an observer but keep them well away from the hole. And of course if any underground cables are accidently damaged don’t attempt to approach, touch or repair them.

Keep the machine operator in the cabin and clear the area by at least eight metres.

Notify the local electricity authority immediately and wait until they give the all clear before proceeding.

Electricity and powerlines are a necessary part of working life but hazards can be avoided.

While every situation is different being aware of the hazards posed by powerlines and taking the necessary safety precautions can save lives. Even your own.

For more information on electrical safety and how to keep your workplace safe contact your local electricity authority.

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