Ex-manager blows lid on 'dangerous, toppling' power poles

Wednesday 19 Oct 2016 7:25 p.m.

A former manager in the electricity industry has quit his job to go public over the state of New Zealand's power poles, which he says are toppling from neglect.

Last week Richard Healey quit his job at Delta, which manages the electricity network in Dunedin and Central Otago, and was escorted from his workplace of seven years.

He called Story after he left the building and said he had resigned over the rundown and unsafe state of the electricity network in his patch, and he wanted to go public about it.

"A common source of topic around the lunch table with my colleagues is how have people not been injured," says Mr Healey, a former business development manager at Delta.

Rotten, leaning and wonky worn-out poles along with falling poles are not being replaced at the rate they should be and 12 poles toppled in one three-week period, he says.

"If you come into contact with one of those higher voltage lines, there is not going to be a good outcome."

Problem poles and corroded conductors are what Mr Healey regards as a decaying and dangerous network and he has photos, videos, documents and emails to back up his claims.

The final straw for him came when a random sample revealed 99 percent of poles, which regulations state must be replaced within 12 months, did not even have red warning tags.

The tags are a safety alert telling people not to climb the poles and that it is earmarked for removal.

He wrote a safety alert but claims it was watered down and a tag team he sent out into the field was recalled.

So he decided to throw the switch on a 35-year career in electricity.

Story put Mr Healey's allegations to Delta CEO Grady Cameron who said they are working very hard to meet the requirements.

He admits there is a backlog of poles which need to be replaced or repaired and the regulator is aware they are not achieving the programme. But he says they are doing everything they can to ensure the safety of their line workers and the public.

Whistleblower Mr Healey has since met with Energy Safety, a division of WorkSafe, and they will follow up on the matters he has raised.

Watch the video for the full Story report.