With the avocado picking season kicking off in Bay of Plenty, orchardists are being urged to look up before they work to ensure they are well clear of power lines.
In a bid to help keep orchardists safe, electricity lines company Powerco is emphasising the ‘four-metre danger zone' safety message for people harvesting fruit near power lines.
Orchards often have overhead power lines near or running through them, and horticultural workers have some of the highest levels of injury and fatalities from power lines.
“When working and using equipment in and around avocado orchards, it is important to stay four metres away from power lines to avoid possible electrocution,” says Powerco Group Health, Safety Environment and Quality manager Julie McAvoy.
“Make sure you look up before you work and stay away from power lines.”
Four simple rules for keeping safe:
Identify the lines
Before pruning or picking make sure you locate all power lines on the property. Don't touch or work on any tree touching or is near power lines, and always keep 4m away from overhead power lines.
Every line must be treated as live and remember - you don't need to touch a line to be in danger as electricity can arc (jump) through the air to your equipment and to you.
Moving equipment around lines
When moving tall machinery, choose a route where power lines are high enough to give adequate clearance. Lifting equipment should be in a lowered position before being moved near lines.
Know where the power lines are before raising the platforms of hydraladas, cherry pickers, EWPs and dump truck beds.
Do not use wires to train vines along the same path as overhead power lines. A broken wire flicking upwards can come into contact with nearby lines.
Use a Powerco-approved contractor
Because orchards have a lot of equipment it's tempting to trim or remove trees yourself or help others to do so. But if a tree is within four metres of the overhead lines you must use an approved contractor to have it trimmed.
Contractors trimming or felling trees near power lines may require a close approach consent from Powerco – which you must apply for at least two working days before starting the work.
Close Approach Consents are usually valid for a maximum of one week. Powerco can advise minimum approach distances and whether you require an observer.
For more information or to view a full list of approved contractors visit the Powerco website at: www.powerco.co.nz/Safety/Tree-Trimming/