‘Don’t get zapped on farm’

19-09-2018 by admin

Farmers, who are taking advantage of opening season rain, are being reminded aboutthe deadly threat posed by power lines on their properties.

“The deaths of two farmers in Queensland in March and April are tragic reminders of the danger frompower lines on farms,” said Paul Roberts, spokesman for SA Power Networks.

A range of power lines criss-cross South Australian farms, including transmission lines of more than132,000 volts and mountedon steel-framed towers, and sub-transmission lines at 66,000 volts and 33,000 voltswhich are strung betweentaller Stobie poles and link tosubstations.

Then there are Single Wire Earth Return, or SWER lines, which carry 19,000 volts and constitute about 30 percentof the State’selectricity distribution network.

These SWER lines are difficult to see as they are thin, single lines strung tightlybetween poles that can be hundreds of metres apart.

“We often respond to outages that have been caused by activity on farms during intense work periods such asplanting or harvesting,” Mr Roberts said.

“It is amatter of luckthat we have not had any recentdeaths in South Australia. We havehad some serious injuries and several very lucky escapes.

“Incidents happenin all kindsof situations, from people operating tip trucks, augers, headers, excavators, elevatingwork platforms, scissor-lifts and spray booms, to assembling of irrigation pipes and even scaffolding.

“A new issuethat has emerged in recent years is the use of GPS for guiding ever-bigger farm machinery.”

Mr Roberts said the fatalities in Queensland had involved boom sprays contacting power lines and showedthethreat posed by operating tall or wide machinery around power lines. But this hazard can be reduced through proper risk assessment.

“Farm workers should always carry out a safety check before starting a task. Will the work happen near overheadelectricity power lines or require movement of tall or wide equipment under or around lines? Is there analternative?” he said.

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