On my farm
Working on farms, orchards and other types of rural operation can put you in all kinds of situations – but close to electrical equipment should never be one of them!
We know it’s often necessary for work to be done around assets such as overhead power lines and underground cables, which is why we always work with you to ensure your safety when the need arises.
Top Tips for Staying Safe
Look up for Overhead Lines
Equipment does not need to touch the line to be dangerous as electricity can jump or arc over in a high voltage system. Treat every wire as live, and be careful when transporting or using equipment on your farm. It can be easy to misjudge the height of lines and catch irrigation equipment, forklifts or other high loads on overhead power lines.
- Working off trucks - Park away from overhead lines and work as much as possible away from the lines and poles. Keep clear of power lines when working on the upper levels of stock trucks or on high loads. Don’t load or unload metal irrigation pipes close to power lines.
- Moving equipment around lines - When moving tall machinery, choose the route where power lines are high enough to give adequate clearance. Always have lifting equipment in a lowered position before moving it under lines. Make sure you know where power lines are when moving vehicles with raised apparatus such as irrigation systems, grain augers, ladders, drills and dump truck beds.
If you do need to work within four metres of overhead power lines, apply for a safety disconnection or a close approach permit before working so we can ensure electricity won’t ‘jump’ to you and your equipment.
Service Line Maintenance
If you own a farm or rural property, it’s likely you will own some of the electrical equipment delivering power to your property. These electrical assets are your responsibility to maintain, and it’s important to ensure they are always in a safe condition. Keeping equipment well maintained also reduces the risk of damage during extreme weather events.
Unison Contracting offers a service for repairing and maintaining privately owned electrical assets – call us for a quote if your electrical assets need maintenance or repairing.
Check for buried cables before digging
Even if your electricity supply is delivered through overhead power lines, it is likely that underground earth cables or sub-mains (like those connecting a shed to the main switchboard at the house) will exist underground on your property.
Always call Unison before digging within five metres of a power pole, and ensure you have any underground sub-mains located before undertaking excavation work on your property.
Be careful with fencing
Don’t install fencing wire along the same path as overhead lines, or strain wire where it could make contact with lines. A broken wire flicking upwards can come into contact with nearby power lines and electrocute anyone touching the fence.
Keep jet irrigators and the booms of rotary irrigators clear of all power lines
Make sure the tips of rotary irrigators are kept at least four metres from power lines when operating and moving down a paddock, and when being shifted along bumpy roads or paddocks.
Keep planes, helicopters and drones clear of power lines
Pilots and ground staff need to be vigilant for known hazards, and should check with Unison and Transpower when scheduling activities such as top-dressing or aerial culling. Be aware that new lines may have been erected, and activities such as tree clearing may have exposed lines previously hidden.
Keep clear of fallen power lines
Making contact with power lines that have fallen to the ground is highly dangerous and potentially fatal for you, your workers and your livestock.
Always assume fallen power lines are live, and stay as far away as you can – the electricity can ‘liven’ the ground around the line, meaning you could be injured without even making contact with it!
If the line falls on to a vehicle you are operating, stay inside the vehicle until help arrives or, if there are other life-threatening risks such as a fire, carefully exit the vehicle by jumping from it as far as you can – making contact with the ground while touching the vehicle creates a path for the electricity to travel to the ground, potentially causing electric shock or electrocution.
Get a permit for transporting loads over five metres high
If you need to transport a vehicle or equipment measuring over five metres in height through any of Unison’s network regions, you need to apply for a High Load Permit before leaving for your journey.
It may also be necessary for power lines to be lifted along your route, or for one of our electrical workers to escort you along the way. We can help!