Katikati Advertiser

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.

Julie McAvoy

 ??  ?? Electric shock survivor Troy Hall.
Electric shock survivor Troy Hall.

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