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Farm safety plea after high number of potentially deadly incidents

Farm safety hero 2

There is concern that someone might die or be very seriously hurt if farmers keep hitting powerlines and poles with farm machinery while working on their properties.

As sowing gets underway in earnest, there already have been 13 separate incidents in 2022 where farm machinery has hit powerlines. All 13 incidents have occurred since 11 March 2022. On average there are about 20 such incidents each year and normally three or four at this stage of the year.

A graph showing farm accidents involving SA Power Networks electricity infrastructure comparing incidents year on year from 2019 through to 2022 to 10 May 2022.

Picture: Seeding safety incidents year-on-year

We have been actively campaigning and promoting improved safety on farms around powerlines for many years and warning of the potentially fatal consequences. Head of Corporate Affairs, Paul Roberts, says SA Power Networks is exasperated by the number of potentially life-threatening incidents occurring on farms in 2022. “No job is more important than the safety of everyone on the farm,” he said.

“Many farmers are getting it right, but the number and type of incidents occurring this year is very disturbing. People would be surprised by the incidents that occur – in broad daylight a tractor runs straight up the middle of a Stobie pole. Other times a pole is hit during a turning maneuver. A clear problem is that farmers are using GPS to guide farm machinery but not programming electricity infrastructure into the GPS and potentially also not paying as much attention as they should because they are relying on the GPS,” Mr Roberts said.

“We have invested significantly in regional advertising to bring this issue to the attention of farmers, their families and communities. It is disheartening when our crews keep having to attend incidents that could easily have been avoided. I have said it many times, that while seeding is a positive time on farms an accident would make it disastrous,” Mr Roberts said.

He said family members, contractors and others who are giving a helping hand, need to be made aware of the location of powerlines and poles and the potential risks. “There may have been some change to the configuration of powerlines on the property and, with farm machinery getting taller and wider, everyone needs to know powerline clearances before undertaking work. Powerlines also can be difficult to see, especially in dusty conditions, so confirming their location before you start work, could avoid serious injury or even save a life,” Mr Roberts said.

Look up and Live

To help farmers plan their work, they can access GPS mapping of South Australia’s electricity distribution infrastructure via the Look Up and Live app and website

Read more about Look up and Live


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