Plant and Powerlines
Across Australia and the rest of the world, there are way too many stories of fatalities and near fatalities resulting from interaction between plant and powerlines.
At Plant Assessor, we see the issue of ensuring safe systems of work for plant around powerlines as a real challenge. There is a wealth of information available today regarding working around powerlines. In Australia, the best sources of this information include safety regulators and energy industry participants such as regional energy distributors.
Application of the hierarchy of controls
The application of the hierarchy of controls is crucial in dealing with any safety hazard, especially powerline hazards. Review of regulator and distributor guidance highlights a consistent approach by these authorities to the application of the hierarchy of controls in relation to safety when working around powerlines. For further information about the hierarchy of controls, check out this article.
The guidance contains the following key themes:
Unfortunately, in many circumstances, practicality and commerciality see a heavy reliance upon administrative controls to manage powerline hazards. As a consequence of this, safe systems of work are heavily reliant upon following procedures, and the competency and vigilance of people involved. As most of us know from grim experience, maintaining the relevant competency and vigilance can be difficult due to human and other factors.
In essence, this slide down the hierarchy of controls is the reason that it is common for fatal or near fatal incidents to occur when working around powerlines. This is the reason it is critical to follow a diligent and comprehensive process when approaching the task of operating plant around powerlines.
Electricity distributors and guidance by state
New South Wales
Australian Capital Territory
Disclaimer: This information is intended to provide general information on the subject matter. This is not intended as legal or expert advice for your specific situation. You should seek professional advice before acting or relying on the content of this information.