An excavator was working approx. 50 m from powerlines loading out from a stockpile. While
tracking under the 11kv powerline to another stockpile, the boom contacted the overhead powerlines. This knocked out power to the plant and local community. The excavator operator was not aware of the contact until advised by the dumper operator.
Pressure release, including electrical events, are a major cause of serious harm and fatalities in the extractives sector. This incident highlights the need to be vigilant when working around live powerlines. We recommend that all sites review procedures, and practices, to ensure that:
• Powerlines are underground or, if overhead, are clear of any stockpiles or mobile plant work areas.
• All overhead powerlines on site are clearly identified and signposted, including the height and power supply (e.g. 11kv).
• If possible, isolation procedures include the isolation of power when mobile plant is working around powerlines.
• Procedures for working under or near overhead powerlines include suitable separation distances between mobile plant and the powerlines and barriers between the powerlines and workers.
• Workers are trained in, and regularly reminded of, the potential hazards associated with overhead powerlines.
• Regular workplace inspections are conducted to ensure compliance with the procedures listed above.