Farms told by coroner to 'reduce the risk of electrocution'

Coroner makes findings into electrocution death at Kergunyah farm

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FATAL DAY: Emergency services responded to the workplace incident at the Kergunyah farm in 2018.

FATAL DAY: Emergency services responded to the workplace incident at the Kergunyah farm in 2018.

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The 55-year-old died when his trailer came into contact with overhead powerlines

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The tragic death of a man whose trailer came into contact with powerlines at a Kergunyah farm will serve as a lesson for other farms and businesses, so they can avoid the same fatal consequences.

The 55-year-old Shepparton man worked for FertGrain delivering grain and fertiliser, and died from an electric shock on February 6, 2018 when his trailer came into contact with overhead powerlines.

In the findings from the inquest, Coroner John Olle pointed out the lack of warning about the powerlines and procedures in place to prevent electric shock.

The man had been described by his manager as "a very knowledgeable, experienced and safety-conscious driver".

He met the farm owner at the Kiewa Valley Highway property at about 5.20pm and was asked to unload the delivery of super phosphate in a 10-acre paddock.

"They did not discuss the overhead powerlines," Coroner Olle said.

The farm owner realised something was wrong after five minutes when the power went out at the property, finding the man's trailer in contact with the 22kV aerial powerlines and rear tire on fire. Coroner Olle said the man was found "unresponsive, lying on the ground near the driver's side of the truck" and he died at the scene.

Energy Safe stated his trailer - found to be in breach of the required two metres of clearance from the powerlines - was "energised" by the electrical fault, which flowed through to the ground.

The man "suffered a fatal electric shock with due to physically coming into contact with his truck and the ground simultaneously, or by standing near the truck when he exited the vehicle".

The Kergynyah farm owners subsequently shut and locked the gates to the paddock, and placed a large sign warning of the powerlines.

FertGrain have since provided detailed instructions on "no-go zones" and what to do in the event of contact with powerlines.

Coroner Olle said he was satisfied with these improvements, but also recommended "WorkSafe distribute an industry-wide release setting out the lessons learnt and the initiatives undertaken by the employer and the farm owner in this case, in order to reduce the risk of electrocution by overhead powerlines".

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The story Farms told by coroner to 'reduce the risk of electrocution' first appeared on The Border Mail.

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