FARM safety with electricity is a shared responsibility between the energy supplier and the farming sector, according to Essential Energy general manager safety, HR and environment, David Nardi.
“The biggest electrical safety risk on farm is machinery contact with power poles and power lines,” he said.
Typical incidents involve tractors or attached implements such as spray rigs, cotton pickers, grain augers, slashers and other equipment contacting overhead powerlines.
Mr Nardi said the risk was exacerbated in harvest season when more equipment was in operation and GPS tracking and autosteer technology was heavily relied upon.
“This company devotes a huge amount of resources to campaigns targeting the agricultural industry with much centres around electrical safety,” he said.
“The LAND campaign offers important safety advice for people working near the overhead electricity network during daily farming activities.”
Key safety messages include:-
LOOK up and live – overhead powerlines should be marked and identified as ground level.
ALWAYS be aware – check the location and condition of poles and wires before accessing paddocks and work areas.
NEED to know – know the height of farm machinery and equipment, both when raised and lowered.
DON’T disembark – it it is safe to do so, stay in the vehicle if your machinery comes into contact with overhead power lines until help is available. Phone the 000 emergency help line.
Mr Nardi said each area of Australia had an emergency phone number for the farm’s electricity provider.
“Essential Energy’s network spans across 95 per cent of NSW and our emergency number is 13 20 80,” he said.
Identifying potential hazards on a property before starting work can help to minimise the risks associated with farming near the electricity network.
“The LAND campaign is one of the tools we use to reach as many farmers as possible,” Mr Nardi said.
“Machinery operators should remain vigilant around the electricity network as a small lapse in concentration can result in a safety incident.
“Unfortunately, that can become a major safety risk to operators and bystanders, and potentially cause a power outage inconveniencing the local community.”
Mr Nardi said people should be aware they could still be injured without directly contacting an overhead powerline as electricity could arc across open spaces and always treat powerlines as live.
“Risk assessments, safety inductions for all workers and the use of a safety observer onsite can greatly reduce potential electrical risks.” he said.
If machinery does contact overhead powerlines or power poles, Mr Nardi said stay in the vehicle if it was safe to do so and call the emergency 000 if life-threatening.
In NSW Essential Energy’s emergency number is 13 20 80 and farmers should be aware of their power company’s number in each state.
“Try not to panic, remain calm and stay in the vehicle until the power has been isolated and powerlines or electricity cables removed,” Mr Nardi said.
“An emergency evacuation is extremely dangerous and should only be attempted as a lst resort such as it the vehicle is on fire.”If an emergency exit is necessary, jump well clear of the vehicle, land with your feet together.
“Don’t touch the vehicle. fall forward or backward, or allow your feet to step apart.
“Jump or shuffle with your feet together until you are at least eight metres clear of the vehicle, powerlines or anything else in contact with them.”