The moment Ron Weston's feet hit the ground he was blown five metres through the air as 13,000 volts shocked his body.
The crop farmer from Korong Vale in north-west Victoria hadn't realised the self-propelled sprayer he was driving had hooked onto an overhead powerline on his property.
"It blew one of the back tyres on the machine and I heard that go off and got out to see what the noise was," he said.
"I always tell people not to get out of a vehicle if you hit a line, but I didn't realise I was tangled up in the powerline at the time."
He was found 40 minutes later by a work mate and was flown to hospital in Melbourne.
"I had burns and I had holes blown through my feet and other parts of my body where the electricity arced out. I was in a pretty bad way for a while there," Ron said.
"It affects you a lot more than you think. There's a lot more to it than just patching up the wounds, it took 12 months really before I started to feel any good psychologically."
Ron's not alone in his experience.
There were 255 incidents involving powerlines in the first six months of 2023 in Victoria, causing concern for electricity distributor Powercor.
The number is climbing towards the yearly average of 307, with most generally involving excavators and backhoes, and on occasion trucks, hand tools and farm machinery.
Ron said he wasn't aware, and suspected others wouldn't be either, of how dangerous the sole power lines called single-wire earth returns were.
"They can spark a metre or more and in a split second they can put you in the cemetery," he said.
"It just happens, it's an accident and maybe you lose a bit of concentration and all of a sudden you're in trouble."
IN OTHER NEWS:
Powercor's Luke Farrugia said 2023 was becoming one of the worst years in recent times for powerline contact incidents.
"Everyone needs to think about powerline safety at all times, no matter what sort of work they're doing," he said.
He urged anyone planning a job using machinery to enter the address into the Look Up and Live app for information about any overhead wires in the area.
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