Western Power is warning the community that a recent sharp increase in copper theft and vandalism on the network is creating unsafe work areas around the network.
In October Western Power worker Dan Burton was hospitalised as a precaution after receiving an electric shock working on a pole, which thieves had damaged trying to steal copper earthing wire.
The network earthing wires act as a safety measure just like the earthing wires in homes, by supplying a direct channel to neutralised earth if there is a fault. This prevents objects around the fault from becoming energised and potentially hazardous.
Mr Burton said thieves are increasingly tampering with the copper earthing wire, which not only risks their life but also leaves the pole in a potentially unsafe state for anyone who works on or around the network.
“No one goes to work to get hurt or injured. Our job is all about safety and these idiots who are after some quick cash, are creating dangerous work sites for anyone just trying to do the right thing.” Mr Burton said.
“The network is a safe place to work and the incident just wouldn’t have happened if the earthing wire hadn’t been tampered with. I was very lucky to have only suffered a mild shock.”
Since July Western Power has recorded over 120 incidents of wilful vandalism or theft to Western Power assets - a 90 % increase from the previous six months.
Western Power’s Head of Safety, Claire Royston said it is a reminder of the potentially serious consequences when interfering with Western Power assets.
“Western Power is continuing to work with police to increase vigilance around the network. We have also extended the checking of earthing wires to even the simplest non-electrical jobs.” Ms Royston said.
Ms Royston said if anyone sees a power pole that appears to be damaged or vandalised they should treat it like a fallen power line - stay at least eight metres away and “Make the Safe Call” to Western Power on 13 51 51.
Western Power is currently looking to utilise copper clad technology that has been rolled out to reduce copper theft around green pad mounted transformers.
The copper clad material meets Western Power’s high level of safety and technical requirements for assets and community safety, but has no scrap value.
About Western Power:
Western Power is a State Government owned corporation that is committed to providing safe, reliable and affordable electricity to more than one million customers across a network area of 255,064 km2.