Assessing the risk
Whether you’re on a building site, driving a truck, operating machinery or working on a farm, there is the potential for accidental powerline contact.
Powerline Safety Planning Tool
Our Powerline Safety Planning Tool is an interactive map that displays powerline locations and can help you plan ahead and take appropriate actions to safely work around powerlines. Plus, you can request safety advice, organise de-energisiation or relocation of powerlines, the application of powerline markers and access relevant safety information.
The planning tool can help you plan your work near powerlines in an effort minimise contact with powerlines to help reduce the risk of injury or death from electrocution and damage to equipment and our electricity network. It's a simple tool that displays:
- Powerline locations and imagery via an interactive geospatial map
- Powerline safety guidelines, including exclusion zones from powerlines
- Options available while planning and/or performing work (such as the erection of powerline warning markers or relocation services)
- Other important information, including contact details.
We aim to reduce the number of shock related incidents by providing tips around these high risk areas.
High load vehicles
Drivers of high loads are at risk of hitting overhead power lines and experiencing an electric shock. If you are driving a vehicle with a high load of materials or transporting large plant items, the risk of hitting power lines while in transit is real and needs to be managed. You can still be injured without directly contacting an overhead power line, as electricity can arc across open spaces.
When transporting high loads, plan safe travel paths that allow you to maintain the required clearances. Before entering the destination, worksite or property, contact the site manager or property owner for information on the approved safe travel path on site. Visually check all powerlines if you must pass beneath them, and ensure you don“t vary from the approved safe travel path.
For any load over 4.6 metres you'll need to contact us on 13 12 53 with the following information:
- Dimensions of the load. The maximum travel height of the load should be determined by combining the height of the object and the vehicle used for transportation. If unable to predetermine the exact measurement, the maximum possible height should be used for scoping or assessing purposes.
- Route specification.
- Time or times during which transport is required to take place.
- Details of the service provider responsible for facilitating the transport of the high load and providing safety precautions.
Private power poles
A private power pole is a pole within your property's boundary that supports the overhead powerlines to your home or other buildings on your property. For safety reasons and to help ensure reliability of electricity supply, it is important to regularly check and maintain private power poles. Keeping them safe is your responsibility.
Energex works alongside the Electrical Safety Office and Ergon Energy to raise awareness of the responsibilities of private power pole owners. Find out more information about private power pole safety.
Are you playing it safe near electricity? Always exercise caution when around overhead powerlines, especially when participating in recreational activities.
- always locate and be aware of overhead powerlines
- always assess the risk of contacting overhead powerlines
- only fly kites, rockets, balloons and remote controlled aircraft in open spaces free of powerlines and in fine weather
- build kites only out of non-conductive materials like wood, paper and string. Wire, tinsel and metal conduct electricity if they contact with powerlines and lightning
- exercise caution near swimming pools and never use electrical appliances or extension cords around them
- ensure outdoor power outlets near water have a safety switch to prevent electrical shocks
Boaties are at an increased risk of contact with overhead powerlines because the masts and rigging of sailing boats may be higher than the powerlines.
- Launching your boat
- Extra caution is required when launching and retrieving boats with a mast - keep a lookout for overhead powerlines.
- Look up to check for any overhead wires between your boat and when approaching the launching ramp. Make certain you will not be raising the mast or antenna close to powerlines.
- On the water
- Powerlines may cross waterways, river crossings or other boating areas. If the mast or antenna comes close to or contacts overhead powerlines, members on board could be put at electrical risk.
- It is the boater's responsibility to remain a safe distance away from powerlines and to know the distance between the boat's waterline and the masthead.
- It is also imperative to know the height of the waterways at all times of the day in comparison to the height of the surrounding powerlines.
- Overhead powerline height is relatively constant, however, the height may change due to heat, humidity or electricity load. Always look for markings on powerlines near water crossings.
- Underwater power cables and pipes could also be in the area. These areas are indicated with signs anchoring is prohibited in the vicinity.
When it comes to the potential dangers of working around powerlines and other network infrastructure on the land, there are some key safety messages to keep in mind.
Fallen powerlines and other dangerous situations
- treat any fallen powerlines as 'live' regardless of whether they are sparking or arcing
- if your machinery contacts powerlines, all metal parts can become live. Do not step down from machinery touching a powerline, as parts of your body could touch 'live' metal on the machine as your foot touches the earth, creating a path for the electricity to run through your body to the earth. Try not to move, call for someone to contact Emergency Services (000) and Energex (13 19 62) for help*
- If there is an additional danger, such as fire, or if you are alone, jump off the machine. Keeping both feet together, try and jump as far away from the machine as you can. Then, still keeping both feet together, jump clear of the machine. Be aware, tyres do not necessarily give insulation from the earth*
- do not walk near electrified machines, as dangerous voltages may form between your spread feet.
* this is general information and may not apply in all situations.
- do not go barefoot while using electrical appliances or machinery. In one third of all electric shocks, current flows to earth through a victim's bare feet. Rubber or plastic soled shoes in good condition, will give far more protection than thongs or no shoes at all. 'Good condition' means shoes are dry and not torn or split to the point where they don't cover the feet entirely.
- irrigation pipes should not be moved around, near of under powerlines
- if you have to move an irrigation pipe near powerlines, don't lift it at a right angle to the ground. Irrigation pipes are in lengths that will easily cover the distance between ground and overhead powerlines
- when working near overhead powerlines, place ground markers near them as a reminder. Have someone watch your movements to ensure you maintain a safe distance away from powerlines
- train workers to remember; see a marker - look up and live
- For more information read our factsheet Working safely around electricity for irrigators (PDF 1.6 mb).
Protecting stay wires
- ensure machinery travels clear of stay wires. Damaged or broken stay wires can result in weakened or leaning power poles
- attach flags or ribbons to pole stay wires to show clearly where they are and install protection where the stays enter the ground.
Substations are physical locations across the electricity network, which convert electrical power from high voltage levels to lower levels so that it can be distributed to homes and businesses.
They are secured in buildings, enclosures and security fences and are identified by Energex signage and danger signage.
Whenever you are near a substation always put safety first by obeying danger signs and keeping out of substations. Never enter a substation to retrieve lost items.
Contact us on 13 19 62 immediately if you notice:
- a substation door or gate is unsecured
- fence wire has been cut or trespassers are inside a substation
- kites, sporting equipment or other toys enter a substation
Trees and powerlines
We believe that trees are an important part of our community and the environment. Trees and other vegetation make our homes pleasant places to be, they also provide much needed shade and are a home to wildlife.
However, there are hidden dangers. Powerlines can be hidden from sight by leaves and branches, making it dangerous to work around your home. Children climbing trees growing near powerlines and poles can also present life-threatening situations.
To deliver a safe and reliable power supply to your home, we spend tens of millions of dollars each year to maintain a safe clearance between trees and powerlines. The program reduces the risk of:
- accidental electrocution
- fires caused by electricity
- power interruptions caused by branches touching or being blown into powerlines
Find out more about our tree trimming program.