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Energy Safe Victoria (ESV) has recorded four serious powerline incidents in regional Victoria in the past three weeks, prompting a plea from Commission Chairperson, Marnie Williams, for machinery operators to take more care. 

On 3 May, an excavator sitting on top of a truck made conduct with high voltage wires in Pakenham. The truck driver was placing ramps on the truck at the time and consequently received a shock. A workmate quickly administered CPR to revive the driver, before he was taken to hospital in a critical condition.

On Friday, 30 April, a tipper truck hit a high voltage conductor at Trafalgar South with the driver taken to hospital in a stable condition.

On Tuesday, 27 April, a man was left in critical condition after the grain auger he was transporting hit powerlines at a property in Harston, south-west of Shepparton. According to reports, the man was severely shocked after the grain auger – being towed by the forklift on which he was standing – hit one of the bare overhead powerlines above. The man was airlifted to the Alfred hospital.

On Monday, 12 April the arm of a crane truck made contact with powerlines as it was offloading building materials at a worksite in Dromana. Two men were injured, one is in a serious condition.

All incidents resulted in life-threatening injuries requiring hospitalisation and are under investigation by ESV and WorkSafe.

“To have four in the space of three weeks is deeply concerning,” Ms Williams said. 

“Anyone operating machinery such as cranes, crane trucks, and tipper trucks must look up because incidents like these are preventable if operators of machinery take the proper precautions.

“They need to be aware of power lines, particularly in rural and regional areas where single bare powerlines are often hard to see.

“You only need to see the consequences from these four incidents, which have all caused serious injuries and in some other cases people have died.”

ESV is unable to comment on the specifics of these incidents as they are still being investigated.

In late 2020, a farmworker was killed when the extendable boom on the telehandler he was operating came into contact with overhead powerlines in Gerung Gerung, in north-western Victoria.

The Look Up and Live campaign has been running for almost ten years. It calls on workers and operators of such machinery to be aware of powerlines and plan how to safely undertake their work before they begin. 

For more information go to esv.vic.gov.au/campaigns/look-up-and-live.

ESV also made the following recommendations:

  • Understand No Go Zones. These include rules and distances for safety clearances near overhead powerlines. People and equipment working anywhere near powerlines need to understand the No Go Zone requirements to stay safe and away from live powerlines
  • Monitor weather conditions closely – powerlines can sag in extreme heat and sway in strong winds
  • Powerlines are more difficult to see at dawn and dusk
  • Remember that electricity can jump across air gaps
  • For more information go to our website Look Up and Live page
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