28 July 2022
Energy Safe Victoria (ESV) is investigating machinery operators after an excavator hit underground high voltage cabling causing a fire at a Shepparton school.
ESV inspectors attended St Luke’s Catholic Primary School on Wednesday, 27 July after the damaged cabling pulled on a kiosk transformer, which started a fire. No one was injured and no school buildings were impacted by the fire.
A number of residents surrounding the school were left without power for several hours as electrical crews worked to repair the network.
ESV, Victoria’s energy safety regulator, is inve
stigating the incident and has the power to prosecute machinery operators and businesses that contact overhead or underground powerlines. ESV and Before You Dig Australia (BYDA), formerly Dial Before You Dig, said the incident was an important reminder to all Victorian machinery operators to always check records and ensure it it safe to dig before commencing work. Machinery operators should follow the ESV No Go Zone guidelines, never digging where underground assets are located. Machinery operators must check for the existence of underground assets, which can be done through BYDA.
There are different types of assets underground in Victoria, including electricity, telecommunications, gas, pipelines, water, drainage and sewerage and it is important to note that underground assets including high voltage electricity cables are located on both public and private land. No Go Zones also apply to overhead powerlines with ESV’s Look Up and Live campaign urging Victorian heavy machinery operators to be aware of minimum safety distances before starting work for more than a decade.
Quotes attributable to ESV Commissioner and Chairperson Marnie Williams
“We urge Victorian machinery operators to be aware of electrical and gas assets to ensure the protection of lives and property.” “Ignoring this important step can lead to devastating results.”
Quotes attributable to Before You Dig Australia Mell Greenall CEO Before You Dig Australia
“Before You dig Australia provides a free service to support anyone breaking ground, check for underground infrastructure, there is no excuse for digging blind." “This incident was avoidable, underground infrastructure plans are free and easily accessible through BYDA, additionally Infrastructure owners are always happy to talk through the specific requirements of working around high-risk pipes and cables."
Reviewed 24 January 2023