Death-defying live-wire acts

A concrete-pumper driver who hit high-voltage powerlines in Springvale is among a recent series of lucky escapes across Melbourne, says the state’s energy safety regulator.

Energy Safe Victoria issued a warning for heavy-machinery operators to be aware of overhead powerlines after several narrowly avoided injury over the past week.

On 19 January, the Springvale operator had failed to properly assess their surroundings beforehand, according to the ESV. He was not injured.

Similarly, a five-tonne excavator brought down low-voltage overhead service cables in a Glen Waverley street on 12 January.

And on 17 January, a tip-truck driver of more than 25 years’ experience hit high voltage lines in Rockback. They had been working without an electrical spotter, as recommended by the ESV.

ESV Commissioner Marnie Williams said when operating heavy machinery near powerlines, drivers should be aware of hazards, use spotters and do the appropriate training.

The most vulnerable are operators with “little-to-no experience” who have hired the equipment for work on their property.

“Unfortunately, both experienced and inexperienced heavy machinery operators can fail to take note of overhead powerlines,” Ms Williams said.

“Fortunately, no one was injured over the past week, however not everyone has been as lucky in previous incidents where people have been seriously injured.”

In April and May 2020, ESV recorded four serious incidents in three weeks where workers were hospitalised after heavy machinery made contact with overhead powerlines.

ESV has been promoting its Look Up and Live campaign for more than a decade.