Ron Weston knows better than most the dangers of getting too close to powerlines.
The Korong Vale farmer was driving a self-propelled spray boom on his property on 9 May last year when part of the vehicle touched an overhead wire.
Unknown to Mr Weston, the vehicle became tangled in the live powerline and blew out a rear tyre.
“I just heard the tyre go, so I got out to check what had happened,” Mr Weston said.
“I always tell people not to get out of a vehicle if you hit a line, but I didn’t realise I was tangled up in the powerline at the time.”
When his feet hit the ground, Mr Weston’s body completed an electrical circuit and the force of around 13,000 volts caused multiple burns, knocked him unconscious and threw him several meters from the vehicle.
“A good mate who works with me found me about 40 minutes later, and I remember saying to him; ‘I think I’ve been electrocuted’,” Mr Weston said.
“The next thing I know I was airlifted to The Alfred hospital in Melbourne.”
Electricity distributor Powercor is pushing for greater awareness of powerline dangers as Victoria experiences a concerning trend in incidents in “No Go Zones”, which are protected area around powerlines where machinery should not approach.
In just the first six months of the year there had already been 255 incidents involving powerlines in Victoria – almost reaching the full-year average of 307*.
The most prevalent type of incident involved excavators and backhoes, while trucks, hand tools and farm machinery also featured on the list.
Powercor Network Risk and Assurance Manager Luke Farrugia said the Look Up and Live app was a great resource for anyone planning a job with machinery to avoid potential disaster.
“We want these numbers to go down, not up, and unfortunately it looks like we’re heading towards one of our worst years in recent times,” Mr Farrugia said.
“Everyone needs to think about powerline safety at all times, no matter what sort of work they’re doing.”
“I’d encourage people to download the app, put in your job address and you’ll have the information needed to navigate work in vicinity of any overhead wires in the area on the day,” Mr Farrugia said.
Mr Weston said it was important people were aware of the dangers of coming into contact with powerlines.
“I had burns and I had holes blown through my feet and other parts of my body where the electricity arced out. I was in a pretty bad way for a while there.”
“But it’s also the emotional toll it takes, when you have your family and friends and the whole community asking how you’re going, and worrying about you, it just gets to you.”