Survivor warns of power line danger
Troy Hall telling his story so others keep themselves safe
The first jolt of electricity from overhead power lines went through the right-hand side of avocado harvester Troy Hall’s head – killing him. The second jolt, right through the chest, broughthimback.
“That’s the one that litmeup. Iwas engulfed in flames for awhile. I lost sight inmyleft eye, lostmyright ear, 60 per cent torso burns all overmy body and legs, and a quarter ofmy face,” says Hall, 31, whois reliving his accident to educate others about the importance of staying well clear of power lines.
Heis sharing his story in a short film for Powerco’s public safety campaign, LookUp, specifically targeting horticultural workers in the western Bay of Plenty, where Powercoowns and operates the electricity network.
But it’s a safety message that will resonate with anyone – demonstrating the power of electricity with ahard-hitting reminder of what can happen if you get too close to power lines, Powerco general manager, health and safety, JulieMcAvoysaid.
“Stay safe. Whenworking and using equipment in and around orchards, please look upbefore you work and keep yourself and equipment at least 4metresaway from power lines,” McAvoysaid.
“You don’t even need to touch a power line to be in danger – electricity canjump the gap through the air to your equipment and to you. Every
line must be treated as live. Always.”
ItwasOctober 2011whenHall received the massive electric shocks whenpicking avocados at height on a cherry picker in aMatapihi, Tauranga orchard.
“On the day of the accident, itwas raining.
“I remember, about an hour beforehand, actually popping out through the trees and through the power lines themselves. With the attitude Ihad back then, (I thought) itwas just like anear miss and didn’t respect justhowclose Iwas at that time,” Hall said.
“The lastmemory. . . is popping out of the tree and blacking out.”
It is understood themetal cherrypicker hewasworkingon hit the power lines and the electricity jumped through the air to him.
Nine years on from the horrific accident, the recovery is still on-going for Hall, whohas allowed for photos of his early injuries while recovering in hospital to beshownin the film as part of educating other horticultural workers.
“I’m glad that this is going to get views, tomakepeople aware of power lines and the real risks involved if you get hit by electricity,” he said.
“The recovery is on-going to this day, especially in the mental aspects,” says Troy, whonowoperates his own Bay of Plenty-based, avocado harvesting and tree pruning business called Aroharvest.
“At the start of the recovery, itwas quite adepressing time. It tookme prettymuchover a year-and-a-half to two years to get any sort of mobility back – of feeding myself and walking, and any sort of independence. Even to this day, there’s a lot of restrictions.
“My advice to orchard owners and people working around power lines is to be aware of your surroundings and look up. I’d hate for anybody to godownthe samejourney I’ve been through over a split-second mistake.
“It’s really important to really take into account the power of electricity.”
Powerco will be premiering Hall’s filmed story on its Facebook and YouTubechannels, and boosting it into the Bay of Plenty – thehomeof NewZealand’s avocado and kiwifruit industries – fromthisweek.
Thecompanyis also seeking to work with the local horticultural industry bodies to showthe film as part of their industry training around overhead power line safety.
McAvoysays Troy provided a selection of his recovery photographs for use, which meansthe threeminute film is, at times, graphic in nature.
“Weappreciate that photos of Troy’s injuriesmaymakesome people feel uncomfortable. For this reason, wehave specifically put a warning about the graphic content at the start of the video.
“Horticultural workers have some of the highest rates of injury and death from overhead power lines.
“Weneed to be hard-hitting so that the message really gets through to people about the importance of staying at least 4metresawayfrom power lines to stay safe,” she said.
You don’t even need to touch a power line to be in danger – electricity can jump the gap through the air to your equipment and to you.