Look Up And Live

By
Updated: June 6, 2019

Regardless of the equipment you use, what sort of work you’re doing, or how well you think you know the site, take the time to look up before you start digging. Your life could depend on it. Look up and live.

Worksites are dynamic places. Especially where there is construction, demolition, excavation and/or earthworks. On top of planned works, changing weather patterns and vegetation growth can compound the daily challenge of getting the job done.

Drivers, machinery operators, and workers need to constantly check worksites for risks and dangers. Not just at ground level, where most of our attention is usually focused, but also above ground.

Look up and live is focused on safety near and around powerlines. Powerlines carry electricity in live wires called ‘lines’ on high poles. The height of the poles can vary, but they usually start at around 15m from ground level.

Look up and live is a vital reminder that powerlines are a real and present danger to workers in the construction and earthmoving industries. As powerlines on poles and towers grid the state, we are very used to seeing them. Over time, our brains incorporate them into the landscape. It’s like an optical illusion making the risk harder to see.

Be aware of what is above you and take extra care if your work involves:

  • Using tall machinery, such as long reach excavators
  • Raising the tipper tray of trucks
  • Using earthmoving equipment to lift freely suspended loads
  • Driving High Vehicles

Powerlines in metro areas usually carry four or more lines connecting households and businesses to the electricity grid, making them easy to spot. SWER powerlines, which are commonly used in country areas, can be much harder to see. Often SWER powerlines only have one line and there can be greater distances between poles with a variable ground height between poles.

When working with earthworks be aware that environmental conditions can make conductors move and reduce clearances between powerlines.

Electricity can jump gaps so direct contact with powerlines is not the only present danger. Trucks and machinery do not have to touch the powerlines for injury or electrocution. For that reason, No Go Zones exist for work in proximity to powerlines on poles and on towers.

No, Go Zones

Truck drivers, machinery operators, property owners and people working near powerlines must:

  • Never work within 3m of overhead powerlines or poles
  • Use a spotter when working between 3m and 6.4m of powerlines
  • Never work within 8m of powerline towers
  • Use a spotter when working between 8m and 10m of powerline towers

Worksites are dynamic places and great places to work, but all it takes is a moment. The sun might be in your eyes, trees in your line of vision or your attention could be elsewhere. You may not realise just how close you are to a powerline. The result can be fatal. Electricity-related accidents can cause serious harm and in some cases fatal injury. Before you start work, make sure you Look up, and live.

Call 1800 800 158 for Safety Advice

For more information visit www.esv.vic.gov.au