Warning to Kiwifruit Workers to Stay Safe

Electricity lines company, Powerco is urging orchard workers to ‘look up’ and stay safe around power lines as the Bay of Plenty kiwifruit harvest gets into full swing.

With extra hands coming on board to pick at this busy harvest time, it’s important for people working in orchards with power lines overhead to remember the ‘4-metre danger zone’ safety message, noted Powerco General Manager Electricity, Karen Frew.

“You don’t even need to touch a power line to be in danger. Electricity can jump to your equipment and to you.

“Horticultural workers have some of the highest rates of injury and death from power lines. That’s because orchards often have overhead lines running through them, so there’s significant risk of you or your equipment accidentally touching lines. To stay safe, people and equipment must stay 4m away from overhead lines.”

The distance extends to 8.5m if building shelter belts or raising canopies.

Following these rules can ensure everyone working in the orchard goes home safely:

  • Always keep at least 4 metres away from overhead power lines.
  • Don’t touch or work on any tree or vine that is touching or near power lines.
  • Look up and know where power lines are before raising platforms of hydraladas, cherry pickers, elevating work platforms or dump truck beds, and chose a route where power lines are high enough to give a least 4m clearance.
  • Lower lifting equipment before moving near lines.
  • 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 with potential fatal results.

The look up message also applies when building structures in the orchard, such as artificial shelter belts or raising canopies – when you must be at least 8.5 metres clear of electrical equipment.