Horizon Power is urging Esperance grain farmers to be more vigilant about safety following a spate of potentially dangerous incidents involving powerlines.
Over the last 12 months, Horizon Power has recorded 20 incidents in the Esperance area with a total of 12 occurring over the seeding and harvesting seasons.
Horizon Power’s Goldfields Esperance Retail and Community Manager Donna Gibson said community safety was paramount and it was vital that farmers educated themselves and their workers about the hazards associated with working near overhead powerlines.
“The bottom line is that we don’t want farmers and their workers injured – or worse – including when there is a possibility of fire as it can be very devastating to the community,” Ms Gibson said.
“A fire caused by a fallen powerline has the potential to spread to other parts of the community, risking the lives of many people.
“Fire also destroy assets and crops and will hinder Horizon Power’s efforts to restore power.”
Ms Gibson said that in an incident in Esperance a few weeks ago, a harvester brought down a 19,000 volt powerline and a number of other lines which started a crop fire that burnt two poles.
No-one was injured, the line was isolated by the crew and the fire was extinguished by the local fire brigade.
Gibson Bush Fire Brigade Captain Blake Halford said the Brigade recommended that farmers gave clear instructions to employees on which paddocks had power lines as well as monitoring fatigue levels.
“For those with GPS or auto steer, mapping the position of power poles will greatly lower the risk of connecting with them,” Captain Halford said.
“The local volunteer emergency services are always happy to help but people shouldn’t forget they have their own jobs and businesses to run.
“It’s in everybody’s best interest to stay vigilant when working around powerlines to avoid costly or fatal mistakes.”
Ms Gibson said Horizon Power had a duty to protect the community, its workers and its assets but relied on local communities - in this case farmers – to ensure they were taking appropriate safety measures.
“Research shows that agriculture is a hazardous industry with many potential hazards including the risks electric shocks and fires that can cause fatalities,” Ms Gibson said.
“Many farm workers have been seriously injured as a result of contacting powerlines while moving or installing augers or lifting grain probes, and irrigation pipes.
“Farmers should look around their properties and know the location of the powerlines and make a considered effort to induct new workers about these hazards.
“Above all, farmers need to review their activities and work practices near powerlines – especially those of workers who may be driving or moving machinery.”
Ms Gibson said farmers could visit the Esperance Horizon Power office to collect a farm safety information pack which includes a video and presentation which can be used to educate farm workers about the dangers of fallen power lines during harvesting and seeding.
About Horizon Power
Horizon Power is a Government Trading Enterprise which generates, distributes and retails electricity to more than 48,000 connections in regional and remote Western Australia.
Horizon Power provides electricity services to more than 40 Aboriginal Communities and town reserves.
The utility’s service area is vast – approximately 2.3 million square kilometres – which means Horizon Power services the biggest area with the least amount of customers in the world. For every 50 square kilometres of terrain, there is just one customer.
For Horizon Power media enquiries, please telephone Kaye Hopkins.
Telephone: 1800 799 745
Mobile: 0436 635 827
Captain Blake Halford, Gibson Bush Fire Brigade can be contacted on 0467 544 754.