Industry

Vegetation management, gardening services, arboriculture, tree lopping, trimming and removal, agriculture and construction.

Background

A 27 year old male has died after being electrocuted by overhead powerlines while undertaking roadside tree trimming. The basket of the truck-mounted EWP he was working from entered the No Go Zone and made contact with the live overhead powerlines.

The No Go Zone around powerlines is the minimum safe distance for workers and any equipment they are using.

Arborists and vegetation workers need to take extra care and maintain the No Go Zone when working near overhead powerlines, particularly when tree foliage may make hazards such as powerlines harder to see. A simple mistake can have catastrophic results.

Safety issue

The EWP involved in the incident should be taken out of service and examined by a qualified person to ensure there are no future risks to employees as a result of structural failure or mechanical malfunction, following the contact with overhead powerlines.

Recommended ways to control risks

Duty holders should:

  • ensure no person, no equipment and no parts of vegetation enter the No Go Zone for powerlines: 6m for powerlines carrying up to 330 kV and 3m for up to 132 kV
  • assign an Energy Safe Victoria registered spotter any time work is undertaken within 3m to 6.4m of powerlines, to ensure the EWP does not enter the No Go Zone
  • ensure the spotter has an unobstructed view of the work area and can easily communicate with the operator
  • develop procedures, processes and controls that form a robust safe system of work
  • contact asset owners for advice, assistance and permit to work prior to commencing works
  • consider requesting asset owners to de-energise powerlines during works
  • conduct a risk assessment for a particular job
  • ensure all work crew are aware of the risks associated with working close to powerlines, are inducted onto the work site and briefed about the tasks to be undertaken
  • provide training, instruction and supervision to all work crew in vegetation management in proximity to powerlines
  • have clearly defined emergency procedures and ensure all workers are familiar with them in the event of contact with electricity
  • ensure workers are inducted into and able to conduct an emergency retrieval process

Legal duties

Under the Occupational Health and Safety Act 2004 (OHS Act), employers must, so far as reasonably practicable, provide and maintain a working environment that is safe and without risks to the health of employees. This includes identifying risks to health or safety and eliminating or reducing those risks, so far as is reasonably practicable.

Additional duties may apply under legislation administered by EnergySafe Victoria.