Powerline arc kills worker; injures 6


Tuesday, 19 October, 2021

Powerline arc kills worker; injures 6

A worker died and six others received electric shocks during an incident with a harvester in July 2021.

According to WorkSafe Queensland, the harvester came close enough to an overhead powerline to cause an electric fault current path.

It said initial investigations found the powerline had dropped approximately 3.6 m from its original height because the stay wire on one of the poles had broken, potentially due to corrosion.

It appears the workers were in the field working around a tractor that was pulling the harvester and conveyor when the top of the harvester came too close to the powerline. The worker who died was standing on the ground next to the conveyor at the time.

WorkSafe Queensland said these findings are not yet confirmed and investigations are continuing into the exact cause.

It said that contact with overhead powerlines or coming too close to overhead powerlines can be fatal. It is not essential to come in direct contact with them to receive an electric shock, because electricity can flashover or arc across air gaps. All powerline voltages are lethal, with the risk of flashover increasing as the powerline voltage rises.

The most common electrical risks associated with working near overhead powerlines are:

  • electric shock causing injury or death
  • arcing, explosion or fire causing burns (arcing or explosion or both occur when high fault currents are present)
  • fire causing property damage.
     

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

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