Pillar box vandalism endangering lives

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Vandals are putting their lives at risk tampering with pillar boxes connecting to Palmerston North's underground electricity network, Powerco warns.

There has been an increase in the number of pillar boxes being intentionally damaged in Palmerston North recently, sparking concerns that it’s only a matter of time until someone is seriously injured or killed.

Powerco Group Health, Safety, Environment and Quality Manager Fiona Ewing said the spate of vandalism was particularly concerning due to the potential for serious injury.

While it is not new for vandals to kick off the box lids, in a worrying new trend, people have also been tampering with the cables inside.  Interfering with the wires could cause electrocution or arc flash - where the energy source emits a burning flash of light, Mrs Ewing said.  Being exposed to an arc flash can result in serious burns.

“For their own safety, we ask that people do not tamper with the pillar boxes.  The potential for serious injury is significant,” she said.

Even professionals are not immune to injury from pillar boxes.  Recently, a trained Powerco contractor, wearing regulation protective clothing, suffered burns to his face following an unexpected arc flash, Mrs Ewing said.

“Such an incident reinforces how potentially dangerous the wires in these boxes can be to anyone.”

Even if the vandalism does not lead to injury, damage is being done to a network that connects electricity to thousands of homes in the city, she said.

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