NSCA Foundation

High-voltage powerlines kill teenager


Friday, 05 October, 2018


High-voltage powerlines kill teenager

A teenager on a rural Queensland property has been killed by overhead powerlines.

An incident alert from Workplace Health and Safety Queensland reports that the young man died when a metal irrigation pipe he was lifting with a friend made contact with the 22,000-volt powerline overhead.

Investigations into the incident, which occurred during September 2018, are ongoing.

The incident alert said that electrical incidents in the rural industry often involve contact between machinery and equipment with overhead powerlines. Powerlines in Queensland can carry very high voltages — up to 330,000 volts. Electric shocks do not even require direct contact, as electricity can arc (jump) across gaps.

There are risks for people when the equipment or vehicle they are using comes too close, or into contact with the powerlines, or they are moving or rearranging long metal objects (such as irrigation pipes) under powerlines.

According to Workplace Health and Safety Queensland, recreational activities can also be a risk around powerlines and other electrical equipment such as transformers and power poles.

Powerlines can be difficult to see, even on bright sunny days, but more so in poor light such as rain or cloudy weather or at dawn or dusk. Most powerlines sag between poles by as much as three to four metres, and this is where contact with powerlines often occurs.

The incident alert said that PCBUs should be familiar with the layout of the overhead electrical system on and near their property and understand how far away people must keep from these powerlines. They should ensure that all workers and other people on their property also know where the powerlines are. All workers must be trained to carry out activities around powerlines safely.

Image credit: ©stock.adobe.com/au/Phuchit Aunmuang

NSCA Foundation is a member based, non-profit organisation working together with members to improve workplace health and safety throughout Australia. For more information and membership details click here
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