$35K fine issued after excavator hits powerlines

Friday, 18 September, 2020

$35K fine issued after excavator hits powerlines

A conviction and a $35,000 fine have been handed down to a Victorian quarry, after a safety incident involving powerlines.

A worker at the Geelong site had a lucky escape when the excavator he was driving made contact with high-voltage powerlines. Barro Group Pty Ltd was sentenced in Geelong Magistrates' Court on Thursday after pleading guilty to failing to ensure that the workplace and the means of entering and leaving it were safe.

The court heard that the excavator made contact with powerlines at the Maude quarry in October 2018 when the worker was blinded by the sun as he drove the machine from a dam with its boom up. Two of the lines fell to the ground and power supply was cut to the quarry. No one was injured.

WorkSafe Victoria inspectors found there were no protective barriers or warning devices preventing moving machinery coming into contact with overhead powerlines.

The day following the incident, the company installed hazard signage and bund walls to prevent machinery touching the lines. It later installed permanent height restriction structures at both ends of the powerlines.

WorkSafe Executive Director of Health and Safety Julie Nielsen said employers must ensure that workers' lives are not put at risk when working near powerlines.

"This could have easily ended in tragedy. Powerlines are not always easy to see and it's up to employers to do everything they can to reduce the risks they pose," Nielsen said.

"If there had been adequate height restriction structures and warning signage in place then this frightening incident could have been avoided."

Image credit: ©stock.adobe.com/au/jc1305us

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