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Powerco launches pillar power box safety initiative

Tuesday, September 04, 2018

Powerco is urging home owners to get in touch if they believe a pillar box near their property is damaged or could pose a safety risk because of where it is positioned.

Pillar boxes play a vital role in getting power from the street to your house by connecting the property’s underground electricity cable to Powerco’s underground network. Small and encased in green or black plastic or metal, pillar boxes are usually found on a property’s boundary or on the roadside.  

However, because of increased in-fill housing and smaller section sizes, more and more are falling victim to vehicles, particularly on shared or split driveways. Damaged pillar boxes – sometimes to the point where the wires are exposed – are extremely dangerous. 

“While pillar boxes are small and may look innocuous, because they contain electrical componentry they have the potential to cause serious harm,” says Ian Skipworth, Powerco’s General Manager Service Delivery and System Operations. 

“Some pillar boxes are now in locations where they can be easily damaged by vehicles and, once damaged, children and pets could easily access the wires within them.” 

Handling the wires could cause electrocution or arc flash, which occurs when the energy source emits a burning flash of light. Being exposed to an arc flash can result in serious burns.

Safety is a top priority for Powerco, therefore the public is being encouraged to make contact if a pillar box is damaged or they believe it is in an unsafe location. Powerco will send a technician to carry out a free on-site risk assessment. 

“It may be that when the pillar box was originally put in, it was in a location away from the potential for accident. But with new buildings and driveways being constructed around it, the pillar box is now in a spot where it is prone to damage,” Mr Skipworth said. 

“If the technician determines that the pillar box is in a location where damage to it is likely – and therefore unsafe – options to protect the box will be considered. This may involve installing a form of protection for the box or changing the type of pillar to one less susceptible to damage in that location. Powerco will cover any expense to make it safe.” 

People can contact 0800 POWERCO or email customerservices@powerco.co.nz if they have concerns about the safety of their pillar box. In an emergency, call 0800 27 27 27.

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