Countryman - - FRONT PAGE - Cally Dupe

An Esper­ance farmer whose header brought down a 19,000-volt pow­er­line and sparked a crop fire which burnt two poles was lucky to es­cape in­jury, Hori­zon Power says.

The elec­tri­cal provider is­sued an un­usual plea to grain farm­ers this month, call­ing on them to stop run­ning into powerlines and risk­ing lives, crops and power out­ages.

Hori­zon Power recorded more than 20 in­ci­dents of agri­cul­tural ma­chin­ery mak­ing con­tact with powerlines dur­ing the past year.

More than half of the in­ci­dents oc­curred dur­ing seed­ing and har­vest, and all of them hap­pened in the Gold­fields Esper­ance re­gion.

Hori­zon Power Gold­fields Esper­ance re­tail and com­mu­nity man­ager Donna Gib­son said the re­gion had the largest over­head pow­er­line net­work of any farm area in WA.

“The bot­tom line is that we don’t want farm­ers and their work­ers in­jured, or worse,” she said.

“This in­cludes when there is a pos­si­bil­ity of fire, as it can be dev­as­tat­ing to the com­mu­nity.

“A fire caused by a fallen pow­er­line has the po­ten­tial to spread to other parts of the com­mu­nity, risk­ing the lives of many peo­ple.

“Fire also de­stroy as­sets and crops and will hin­der Hori­zon Power’s ef­forts to re­store power.”

Ms Gib­son urged farm­ers and staff to be mind­ful of fa­tigue and to take note of pow­er­line lo­ca­tions.

“Many farm work­ers have been se­ri­ously in­jured as a re­sult of con­tact­ing powerlines while mov­ing or in­stalling augers or lift­ing grain probes and ir­ri­gation pipes,” she said.

“Farm­ers should look around their prop­er­ties and know the lo­ca­tion of the powerlines and make a con­sid­ered ef­fort to in­duct new work­ers about these haz­ards.”

Gib­son Bush Fire Bri­gade cap­tain Blake Hal­ford said grow­ers with GPS or auto steer could map the po­si­tion of power poles, which would “greatly lower the risk of con­nect­ing with them”.

“The lo­cal vol­un­teer emer­gency ser­vices are al­ways happy to help but peo­ple shouldn’t for­get they have their own jobs and busi­nesses to run,” he said. “It’s in ev­ery­body’s best in­ter­est to stay vig­i­lant when work­ing around powerlines to avoid costly or fa­tal mis­takes.”

Ms Gib­son said farm­ers could visit the Hori­zon Power of­fice in Esper­ance to pick up an in­for­ma­tion pack fea­tur­ing a safety video.

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