| 11.01,19. 10:59 AM |
Dog attacks on electricity staff spark ban on reading meters across Queensland
Photo: Four of the attacks required workers to be hospitalised for several nights. (Supplied: Energex)
Workers from both Energex and Ergon Energy in Queensland will no longer enter yards to read meters where dogs are not securely restrained, after the two companies recorded 71 injuries from dog bites in just over a year.
The ban will come into play from January 14, and workers will not read meters in yards with dogs of any size.
Energex spokesman Rob Mitchell said the move came after the two companies recorded the 71 dog bite injuries and almost 200 other incidents and close calls in the 15 months to October last year.
"The safety of our employees has to come first, so that means if there's an unrestrained dog on a property, then we won't be able to go in to do work of any kind," Mr Mitchell said.
"We'll talk to our customers about what options are available and if no-one is home, we will leave information to help them do a self-meter read.
"In some cases where there is a dangerous dog or known access issue, a remote read meter will be installed."
Four of the attacks required workers to be hospitalised for several nights.
Ergon Energy area manager Wayne Alderman said the majority of injuries were caused by dogs.
"There is the occasional goat and something like that — you'd be surprised, people have some unusual pets and yes, a big male goat with horns can probably just as much damage as a dog," he said.
The new "Safe Entry" measures will apply to all properties, regardless of whether they are in an urban or rural setting.
"Energex will work with our customers and communities to make the new safety measures work so we have a good outcome for our people and our customers," Mr Mitchell said.
Blanket ban is 'excessive'
RSPCA spokesman Michael Beatty said the policy was "a bit of an overkill" but understood the need to minimise harm to electricity crew members.
"If a meter reader is regular to that area, they do get to know which animals are problems and which ones aren't," Mr Beatty said.
"In some ways you can't really blame the dogs because they're protecting their property — some are a bit more overzealous at it than others."
Mr Beatty urged pet owners against restraining their dogs for long periods.
French Bulldog Club of Queensland president Dagmar McLean said the policy was "a disappointing way to move forward".
"I do think as a blanket ban it is excessive," Ms McLean said.
"I think [energy providers] are going to find it very hard to find premises where dogs are restrained around the area of the meter — unless they're prepared to give notice two days out — and generally that's not going to happen."
Ms McLean said crew members should instead be trained in how to read a dog's behaviour.
"You can have a small dog that's more vicious than a big loping Great Dane — some [dogs] sound more terrifying just because of their size, but it doesn't necessarily mean they're more aggressive," she said.
More information about the policy and the tools available to assist customers are available on the Energex and Ergon Energy websites