A Safety Review of Overhead Disconnects and Switches on a Distribution Network

Rob Douglas - Energyedge Limited

Graeme Johnson - Delta Utility Services Limited

EEA Conference Wellington 21 – 23 June 2017


Overhead disconnects and switches are fundamental to a distribution network, facilitating isolation and hastening the restoration of supply. A recent product approval workshop highlighted several issues relating to the operation and installation practices for overhead disconnects and switches. The requirement for earthing was questioned with the benefits extolled for hook stick operated switches over those with handles at ground level. Extensive site audits further revealed that some switches had handles and operator positions impeded by metal fences, and that hook stick switches had been installed with no formal earthing despite being attached to conductive poles. This paper takes a back to basics look at the reasons for earthing a switch and seeks to help nudge the industry towards a standardised best practice approach.

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