SA Power Networks issues plea after 13 farm machinery incidents

As sowing gets underway around South Australia, there's already been 13 separate incidents where farm machinery has hit powerlines.

SA Power Networks says someone might die or be very seriously hurt if farmers keep hitting powerlines and poles with farm machinery while working on their properties.

Head of corporate affairs, Paul Roberts said most of the incidents have occurred on the Eyre Peninsula where seeding is more progressed, while incidents have also occurred in the Mid North.

Kangaroo Island farmers have avoided any incidents this seeding season, which is almost complete.

All 13 incidents have occurred since March 11. On average there are about 20 such incidents each year and normally three or four at this stage of the year, he said.

Seeding incidents in 2022 have far outpaced previous years. Source: SA Power Networks

Seeding incidents in 2022 have far outpaced previous years. Source: SA Power Networks

SA Power Networks has been actively campaigning and promoting improved safety on farms around powerlines for many years and warning of the potentially fatal consequences.

The electricity distributor is exasperated by the number of potentially life-threatening incidents occurring on farms in 2022.

"No job is more important than the safety of everyone on the farm," he said. "Many farmers are getting it right, but the number and type of incidents occurring this year is very disturbing," Mr Roberts said.

"People would be surprised by the incidents that occur - in broad daylight a tractor runs straight up the middle of a Stobie pole. Other times a pole is hit during a turning maneuver.

"A clear problem is that farmers are using GPS to guide farm machinery but not programming electricity infrastructure into the GPS and potentially also not paying as much attention as they should because they are relying on the GPS.

"We have invested significantly in regional advertising to bring this issue to the attention of farmers, their families and communities. It is disheartening when our crews keep having to attend incidents that could easily have been avoided.

"I have said it many times, that while seeding is a positive time on farms an accident would make it disastrous."

The latest SA Power Networks farm safety television advert.

SA Power Networks says family members, contractors and others, who are giving a helping hand, need to be made aware of the location of powerlines and poles and the potential risks.

"There may have been some change to the configuration of powerlines on the property and, with farm machinery getting taller and wider, everyone needs to know powerline clearances before undertaking work," Mr Roberts said.

"Powerlines also can be difficult to see, especially in dusty conditions, so confirming their location before you start work, could avoid serious injury or even save a life."

To help farmers plan their work, they can access GPS mapping of South Australia's electricity distribution infrastructure via the Look Up and Live app and website www.lookupandlive.com.au

This story SA Power Networks issues plea after 13 farm incidents first appeared on The Islander.