Safety around the network

Holland Park SubstationOur network spans more than 25,000 square kilometres across South East Queensland, with over 35,000 kilometres of overhead powerlines, almost 17,000 kilometres of underground power cables, 48,000 transformers and more than 661,000 power poles.

There are many complex components designed to work together to safely deliver reliable power to your home and business community, some of these are:

  • overhead powerlines and underground power cables
  • pillar boxes
  • substations (bulk supply, zone and distribution)
  • transformers

All of these components have associated risks. The impacts on families and the community resulting from safety incidents involving electricity have the potential to be devastating.

Our community messages

We highlight the importance of electrical safety through campaigns that target at-risk groups such as tradies, construction workers, transport and DIY renovators.

Fallen powerlines

Powerlines can be brought down as a result of severe weather, including lightning, high winds, flood and fire. 

The danger of fallen powerlines is not just limited to storm season – they can happen at any time throughout the year and can be caused by things like wildlife and vegetation, such as trees growing into powerlines or falling branches, can also bring powerlines down. Vehicles colliding with power poles, or oversized vehicles contacting the overhead network are also a cause of fallen powerlines.

Remain aware of the dangers of fallen powerlines all year round. If you see a fallen powerline, stay well away, warn others of the danger and report it immediately to our emergency line.

Pick up a phone NEVER a fallen powerline. Call 13 19 62.

Look up and live

Contact with overhead powerlines can have deadly consequences. There are many occasions when you need to exercise caution around overhead powerlines, these include:

  • painting or working from ladders, trestles or scaffolding (particularly metal types)
  • working on, or retrieving play items from roofs, gutters and awnings
  • installing a television or roofing antenna
  • installing house cladding
  • carrying or lifting tall objects
  • erecting masts on sailing boats
  • flying kites and climbing trees close to powerlines
  • pruning or cutting trees
  • operating heavy machinery and other tall equipment
  • establishing irrigators and operating farm equipment

Watch our latest Community Safety message "If you could see the danger, you'd stop yourself".

Dial before you dig

About one-third of our network is supplied via underground power cables. This constitutes one of the largest underground electricity networks in the country. Contacting underground power cables can not only be a safety risk, but can result in extensive power outages. 

We are a strong supporter of the Dial Before You Dig program which is a referral service developed to assist members of the community identify underground infrastructure, including power cables. 

The following guidelines should be follow before undertaking any form of excavation or construction activities:

1. Planning

Electricity cables can be located underground as well as overhead. In the planning stages prior to performing any earthmoving or excavation, confirm if the work you are conducting may present a risk by coming into contact with underground power cables. 

When using excavators and other machinery, also ensure you are aware of the location of overhead powerlines. Workers and equipment must maintain safety exclusion zones around overhead powerlines.

For safety advice and more information contact us on 13 12 53.

2. Dial before you dig

Dial Before You Dig is a referral service for information on locating underground utilities anywhere in Australia. Excavators, Electricians, Plumbers, Planners, Developers, Farmers, Land Surveyors, Builders Contractors, Home Owners and Landscapers all over the country are taking advantage of the convenient referral service. 

Simply lodge an enquiry via www.1100.com.au or call 1100 Monday to Friday, 8am to 5pm. 

The Dial Before You Dig service is designed to prevent the potential for injury, personal liability and even death exists every day. 

Obtaining accurate information about your work site significantly minimises these risks. If you're unsure, always seek safety advice from us.

3. Commence work

Underground location plans provide information about our network assets. These plans are a guide only, therefore, the actual location, depth and alignment may differ.

Pot holing may also be required to determine the exact location of the services. On site location is recommended by an accredited locator which can be found in the yellow pages

When digging or excavating, look out for warning signs such as orange strips, conduits, concrete slabs, orange tape or soft sand as these may indicate the presence of underground power cables.

Always assess the risk

Accidental contact with live electrical equipment can occur for a number of other reasons:

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.

Recreation

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.

Rural

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.

Wearing shoes

  • 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

  • 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.

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.

Service lines

The service line is the overhead powerline which connects a house, building or property pole to the Energex pole in the street to supply you with electricity. 

At your property, we own and maintain the service wire to the point of attachment (POA), where the service enters a mains connection box or at a taped connection.

The mains box and means of connection of our service line to your premises or private power pole (via hook or raiser bracket for example) is your property to maintain.

The point of attachment should also be located in a position that is accessible to us to make repairs or access from a ladder. If you are considering building alterations such as a car port or awning that may make this attachment point inaccessible from a ladder, you should contact a licensed electrical contractor to move the point of attachment to an approved position.

We will make all necessary repairs to our service line to ensure it is safe. While we are inspecting our service line, should we find any electrical defects at your property, we may be required to disconnect for safety and leave a Customer Report (Form 3) onsite, which details the defects we have identified. You will need to contact a licensed electrical contractor to make repairs.

Substations

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.

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