FARMERS at the recent VFF grains conference have called on electricity distributor Powercor, which is in charge of much of Victoria’s network of power poles, to clearly mark poles in-paddock to avoid potential fatal accidents caused by farmers clipping live wires in oversize farm machinery.
There were several accounts at the recent Mildura conference of near-misses, especially at harvest time.
“When it is dusty and the sun is going down, you really have very little vision, and it would not be difficult to run into wires,” said Manangatang farmer Brian Barry, who spoke in favour of a motion to push Powercor to better mark power poles running across paddocks.
Powercor regional assets manager John Hardy said his company agreed with growers that increasing visibility on poles and wires was a positive move in terms of farmer safety.
There have been some trials done with reflective markers on wires, which worked well, but Mr Hardy said Powercor could not commit to a large-scale marking program as yet.
However, farmers at the Mildura meeting became frustrated when he said growers would not be able to mark poles themselves as an interim measure.
“We don’t allow growers to touch poles, it is an occupational health and safety issue.”
Mr Barry said growers were becoming increasingly impatient with the lack of action from Powercor.
“We’ve been understanding and allowed the poles through our paddocks, but this is something that just has to be done, and sooner rather than later,” he said.
Growers at the meeting were also uneasy about the funding of marking work, saying they did not feel they should have to meet the costs incurred.
“It’s Powercor’s job to maintain the poles and I feel they should be paying,” Mr Barry said.