26 September 2023

Energex supports staff over public threats

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Energex field crews, meter readers and call centre operators are facing a “shocking amount of verbal abuse, physical assaults and threats of violence”, the utility has declared.

As a result, Energex and Ergon are reminding Queenslanders that everyone deserves to feel safe at work and personal attacks will not be tolerated.

Executive General Manager of Operations at Energex, Paul Jordon said crews working on the electricity network had enough hazards to focus on without having to worry about abusive customers.

“It is completely unacceptable that people who are just doing their job have been threatened with weapons, assaulted, spat at, had vicious dogs released on them or been verbally abused by members of the community,” Mr Jordan said.

“Our crews strive to keep their communities safe during storms, floods, fires, vehicle accidents and business as usual when they are maintaining and upgrading the network.”

He said it was not much to ask for some common courtesy from customers “instead of being yelled at or having things thrown at you from passing vehicles when you are doing high-risk work”.

“Since 2019 there have been 302 incidents reported by Energex and Ergon employees and contractors, including assaults, attempted assaults and threatening behaviour from customers, including death threats,” Mr Jordan said.

“In the worst-case scenarios, we’ve had to get police involved and these types of incidents can have a lasting effect on the victims,” he said.

“Even when the threat of violence does not lead to physical injuries, it can have a serious impact on their mental health.”

He said the utility had identified 783 sites that its crews were unable to attend without a police escort.

Executive General Manager, Customer, Michael Dart said abusive customers were also taking their toll on Call Centre staff.

“We have a dedicated team who answer the phones 24/7 and provide lifesaving advice to customers when there are serious electrical faults, like fallen powerlines or shocks and tingles,” Mr Dart said.

“While most people are courteous and reasonable, some of the callers they encounter are incredibly threatening and downright abusive,” he said.

Mr Dart encouraged customers with concerns to use the online feedback form rather than attack individuals.

The Energex online contact can be accessed at this PS News link.

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