Tragedy highlights powerline dangers

Thursday, 08 August, 2019

Tragedy highlights powerline dangers

Queensland’s Electrical Safety Office (ESO) and Workplace Health and Safety Queensland are investigating an incident in Mulgrave, North Queensland, which saw a crane come into contact with overhead powerlines. Tragically, one worker was electrocuted, another suffered serious injuries and a third required hospital treatment. The incident is a devastating reminder of the dangers of working near powerlines.

Head of ESO Victoria Thomson said incidents like these are tragic, but all too often avoidable.

“This is an awful situation and our hearts go out to these workers, their families, friends and workmates,” Thomson said. “It is a terrible reminder of just how dangerous electricity can be.

“If work must be done near overhead powerlines, I can’t stress enough how important it is to speak to Ergon Energy or Energex before it gets underway. Powerlines can be de-energised or in some cases moved, removing the hazard completely. If that can’t happen then you must ensure your workers know where powerlines are and keep well clear of them — which means they also need to know the height and reach of any equipment they’re going to be using.”

Thomson urged that, if work had to be done near powerlines, employers should conduct a site-specific risk assessment, develop a safe system of work before starting, keep workers and contractors informed about electrical safety and avoid going into exclusion zones.

“Overhead and underground powerlines can be identified by consulting maps or talking to the property owner and the electrical entity,” she said. “Energy Queensland even has an online tool which makes this check quicker and simpler than it’s ever been. You can also speak to them about painting power poles or having them install markers or flags on the powerlines.”

The Look Up and Live powerline safety planning tool — an interactive geospatial map that displays Energex and Ergon Energy electricity networks — is available at Safety advice is available and it is possible to organise de-energisation or relocation of powerlines and the application of powerline markers.

For more information on working safely near powerlines, visit

Image credit: © Hardwick

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