One worker died and two others ended up in hospital following an incident in which a crane came into contact with overhead powerlines at Mulgrave in North Queensland.
One worker was electrocuted, another suffered serious injuries and a third required hospital treatment.
Incidents like these are tragic, but all too often avoidable, said Victoria Thomson, head of Queensland’s Electrical Safety Office (ESO), which is investigating the incident together with Workplace Health and Safety Queensland.
“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 said if work had to be done near powerlines then employers needed to conduct a site-specific risk assessment, develop a safe system of work before starting, keep workers and contractors informed about electrical safety, and importantly, 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 is available at lookupandlive.com.au. The tool is an interactive geospatial map that displays Energex and Ergon Energy electricity networks.