The following article is a general news item provided for the benefit of members. Its contents do not necessarily reflect the views of the Safety Institute of Australia.
Thursday, 28 September, 2017 - 09:30
Two workers in an uninsulated elevating work platform recently suffered severe electrical shock and burns after contacting an 11 kV powerline with the six metre aluminium sail track they were reinstalling on a billboard.
Both workers suffered a severe electrical shock and burns from contacting the high voltage lines.
Workplace Health and Safety Queensland said the incident is a reminder that working near powerlines can be fatal, as touching them or straying into the exclusion zone around them can result in a serious electric shock or electrocution.
Over recent years there have been three other significant incidents where signwriting and billboard workers have contacted overhead powerlines with their equipment:
In all industries since 1 January 2016 there have been 13 serious electrical incidents involving workers contacting overhead powerlines, three of which were fatal.
In February 2012 two workers were removing and installing advertising skins to a billboard from a gantry. One of the workers, using an uninsulated 6.5 metre metal pole to remove the advertising skin, made contact with a live power line and was electrocuted.
In July 2016 a worker changing a billboard skin suffered an electrical shock and severe burns when an uninsulated metal pole the worker was using contacted a nearby 33kV powerline.
In August 2016 a worker installing a sign from an elevated work platform received electrical shock and severe burns after manoeuvring 6m aluminium sail track into nearby powerlines.
In all industries since 1 January 2016, the regulator has issued 47 notices relating to powerline infringements. 35 of these involved a breach of an exclusion zone and 17 of those involved contact with the powerline.
The other 12 notices were issued solely for not conducting a risk assessment.
Two new electrical safety infringement notices were introduced on 30 June 2017.
“Our inspectors can now issue on the spot penalties of up to $3000 to businesses which fail to identify the risks and implement appropriate controls around powerlines,” the regulator said.