Powerline incidents prompt safety warning
WorkSafe Victoria is urging all employers and contractors operating trucks and other mobile plant near overhead power lines to ensure safety is a priority.
Electrocution from contact with powerlines by mobile machinery can cause serious life-changing injuries and death and can occur on large construction sites, sole farming operations and the transport industry. Since November 2020, one worker has died and five others were taken to hospital with serious injuries after their machinery contacted powerlines. WorkSafe is currently investigating six incidents.
The latest occurred on Monday last week: a 54-year old construction worker was taken to hospital in a critical condition after an electric shock when the excavator's arm on his truck struck powerlines at Pakenham.
In November 2020, a farmhand moving hay bales using a telehandler died when the raised attachment hit powerlines.
WorkSafe Executive Director of Health, Julie Nielsen, said that no matter the situation, care had to be taken when using machinery near electrical wires. "Make sure you assess the environment you are operating machinery in and keep clear of live electrical cables because WorkSafe will not hesitate to prosecute duty holders that fail to protect workers." Read more: WorkSafe media release
National Fatality Statistics
Safe Work Australia has not updated its statistics on fatalities since April 29, at which time they had been notified that 32 Australian workers had been killed at work in 2021. The fatalities have been in the following sectors:
- 12 in Transport, postal & warehousing
- 5 in Construction
- 3 in Agriculture, forestry & fishing
- 3 in Arts & recreation services
- 2 in Manufacturing
- 2 in Electricity, gas, water & waste services
- 2 in Other Services
- 1 in Wholesale trade
- 1 in Public administration & safety
- 1 in Accommodation & food services
These figures are based mainly on initial media reports and provide a preliminary estimate of the number of people killed while working. Once the appropriate authority has investigated the death, more accurate information becomes available from which Safe Work Australia updates details of the incident. Updated information is used to publish Safe Work Australia’s annual Work-related Traumatic Injury Fatalities report which includes finalised work-related fatalities from 2003 onwards. Note that the figures are based on preliminary reports, and so at times will change. To check for updates, and for more details on fatalities since 2003, go to the Safe Work Australia Work-related fatalities webpage.