Tree lopping and other agriculture businesses should be aware that two new electrical safety on the spot fines are now in effect for work around powerlines.
Contact with powerlines can cause death or serious injury through electric shock, explosion and fire. Plant and equipment can also be damaged. Even going too close to powerlines can lead to electricity arcing over from a powerline.
Powerlines and power poles are difficult to see and on hot days the lines can sag up to 4m, which increases the risk of contact. The best way to control the risk of an electrical line strike is to avoid working underneath or near powerlines wherever possible.
Farmers, workers and supervisors must make certain they know exactly where powerlines are and understand the risks of contacting or coming too close to them. Clearly mark poles and arrange for your electricity provider to install safety warning flags on powerlines near high traffic areas.
When you must operate harvesting plant or move irrigation equipment or other equipment near powerlines, make sure you are aware of your surroundings and ‘look up and live’. To avoid entering an exclusion zone, mark the safe distance from the powerline (the exclusion zone) on the ground. If you need to work near this boundary, use a competent observer on the ground who can let you know quickly if you’re about to breach the zone.
Inspectors can now issue on the spot fines of up to $3000 if employers do not put measures into place to keep workers safe while working around powerlines. The fines are a stark financial deterrent for those who might choose to neglect the safety of their workers.
For guidance to help develop safe systems of work and keep workers and equipment outside powerline exclusion zones, visit electricalsafety.qld.gov.au or call 1300 362 128.