Powerco, Electrix recognised for safety projects


Powerco’s hard-hitting powercare safety campaign has been recognised by the Electricity Engineers’ Association.

The campaign used a range of posters with attention-grabbing statements to get its electricity safety message across to contractors, farmers, and the general public.

Powerco also used public events to communicate its message and ran a programme of school visits with its safety champion “Sparky”. In all more than 80,000 people were reached, including 5,000 school children.

The company was awarded the EEA’s public safety award; Ashburton-based EA Networks was the other finalist for the work it did with the New Zealand Transport Agency to develop a low-cost method to underground power lines along a key stretch of highway.

Association executive director Peter Berry says Powerco’s campaign focused on the potential hazards of electricity lines and poles, transformers and substations. All are highly visible in the community but the public is not always aware of the serious safety issues that may surround such equipment, he says.

The judging panel, which included representatives from WorkSafe NZ’s energy safety group, praised the comprehensive nature of the campaign, its clear plan of engagement and effective mitigation plans.


Fiona Ewing, Powerco’s group manager for health, safety, environment and quality, received the award. She thanked chief executive Nigel Barbour for his backing of the campaign, and her colleagues throughout the business who had all got behind the firm’s messaging.

“Safety is a top priority for Powerco. The company is committed to protecting the health and safety of all people living and working around its networks.”

Six finalists were named for the association’s workplace safety award, which was made to Electrix for its development of a distribution technical guide.

MainPower was short-listed for a lone worker safety system it developed and its safety innovation award. Northpower also had two initiatives make the cut: a ladder safety innovation it developed and its live-line transmission tower refurbishment and replacement project.

Te Kuiti-based The Lines Company was short-listed for its equipotential zone site set-up focus.

Continuous improvement

Berry says all the entries showed a culture of continuous improvement and innovation and a focus on ensuring change was sustainable. The entries also highlighted the work of some great individuals whose passion and commitment to safety is driving change.

In making the award to Electrix, Berry says the company’s guide is the result of more than two years’ work and a “fine example of clear communication and action to improve safety”.

It is an all-encompassing field reference supplied in hard copy and on tablets for every truck and work crew.

Electrix general manager Rob Ferris told delegates the guide was the result of a large body of work by many people over two to three years.

It was prompted by comments from staff and near-missing reporting around the firm’s testing processes.

Ferris says the firm standardised its test equipment and its processes. That has resulted in improved competence and confidence among its workforce, which is delivering safer, better quality jobs as a result.

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