Powerline accidents on-farm more than doubled

By Vanessa Binks
May 11 2022 - 10:06am
'Disturbing' incidents rise

AS seeding gets underway for 2022, a hike in machinery and powerline accidents this year has the sector concerned.

Thirteen incidents have been recorded since early March, compared to three or four on average at the same time each year.

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A clear problem identified by SA Power Network's head of corporate affairs Paul Roberts, was farmers are using GPS to guide farm machinery but not programming electricity infrastructure into the GPS.

"They are potentially also not paying as much attention as they should because they are relying on the GPS," he said.

"I have said it many times, that while seeding is a positive time on farms an accident would make it disastrous."

The electricity distributor is exasperated by the number of potentially life-threatening incidents occurring on farms in 2022, says Mr Roberts.

"Many farmers are getting it right, but the number and type of incidents occurring this year is very disturbing," he said.

"People would be surprised by the incidents that occur - in broad daylight a tractor can run straight up the middle of a Stobie pole."

Grain Producers SA chief executive officer Brad Perry was certain that growers were following on-farm safety protocols.

"We would encourage grain producers to be vigilant when dealing with power poles on a property," he said.

But Mr Perry was concerned dust, connectivity issues and after hours work in the dark was causing additional challenges for growers, particularly during seeding.

"I would encourage growers to ensure GPS points for electricity poles were put into the system but connectivity issues depending on their setup can be a barrier for this too," he said.

"Growers intend to do the right thing and these accidents are purely, accidents."

Mr Perry hoped that industry and SA Power Networks could come to an agreement about Stobie pole visibility during high workload periods such as seeding and harvest.

"It is something that needs to be looked into to get the amount of powerline accidents reduced, we need to look closely at why it is happening and whether or not there are practical tools that can be put in place for better on-farm safety," he said.

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