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South Australian farmers urged to look up to keep safe


As sowing continues across the state, SA Power Networks is calling for improved farm safety around powerlines after a rise in incidents in the past two months.

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There have been 13 incidents of farm machinery colliding with powerlines since 11 March, up from three in 2021, according to SA Power Networks corporate affairs head Paul Roberts.

Roberts said the electricity distributor is frustrated by the number of potentially life-threatening incidents occurring on farms in 2022.

“No job is more important than the safety of everyone on the farm,” Roberts said.

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

SA Power Networks is the state’s sole electricity distributor, tasked with building and maintaining the infrastructure that delivers power to around 900,000 homes and businesses, which often has to cross open stretches of farmland.

Roberts said that people would be surprised by the incidents that occur.

“In broad daylight, a tractor runs straight up the middle of a Stobie pole. Other times a pole is hit during a turning manoeuvre,” he said.

“A clear problem is that farmers are using GPS to guide farm machinery but not programming electricity into the GPS and potentially also not paying as much attention as they should because they are relying on the GPS.”

SA Power Networks is hoping their Look Up and Live campaign targeting farmers will help reduce the number of incidents in the future.

“We have invested significantly in regional advertising to bring this issue to the attention of farmers, their families and communities,” Roberts said.

“It is disheartening when our crews keep having to attend incidents that could easily have been avoided.

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

To help farmers plan their work, they can access GPS mapping of South Australia’s electricity distribution infrastructure via the free Look Up and Live app and website.

“There may have been some change to the configuration of powerlines on the property and, with farm machinery getting taller and wider, everyone needs to know powerline clearances before undertaking work,” Roberts said.

“Powerlines also can be difficult to see, especially in dusty conditions, so confirming their location before you start work could avoid serious injury or even save a life.”

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