Theo Venter was an electrical lines man and has worked in the high voltage trade for the last 23 years.
After leaving his home country South Africa, Theo; his wife and three children immigrated to Australia where his trade was in high demand. Soon after his arrival in Australia Theo started work as a contractor working on a major electricity network.
Theo’s story revolves around the day he thought was going to be ‘Just another day!’
On “just another day,” he was asked by his employer to repair a power pole which had been hit by lightning. He was having trouble loosening a nut on the pole and decided to remove his gloves. At this point, an insulator fell and when trying to catch it, Theo’s hand hit the 22,000 volt power line.
Theo faced a true fight to survive – no-one had ever survived a 22,000 volt electrical accident while working on overhead lines before, and the impact wasn’t just physical. He also had to cope with depression and thoughts of suicide.
Fortunately, he was able to fight back and relearn how to do everyday tasks that the rest of us take for granted.
Theo’s story is one of courage, determination and brutal honesty. Theo’s presentation is a plea for all workers in high risk and low risk areas to follow critical work place procedures and personal protective equipment requirements whilst carrying out daily work tasks.
Theo and his story have touched the hearts of many Mines, Electrical, Live Line Workers and many other Resource and Business Sectors throughout Australia, New Zealand and Africa.
Theo was impressively professional in preparation prior to meeting. He wanted to make sure he understood the key details of his audience and our typical safety processes prior to his keynote address. When it came to his presentation he immediately had our workers engrossed as he passionately and emotively re-lived his remarkable experience. Sitting through his talk you go through every emotion (laughter, happiness, shock, despair, anguish, sadness, joy). His central message resonated to our drill crews – procedures are written in blood, no shortcuts. Theo intelligently linked our prior (unrelated) activities into his talk, re-enforcing our message with his real experience. Theo is an incredible, passionate, and emotive speaker. You can plainly see that doing this is not easy on him as he re-lives some of his darkest days. I had big burly drillers admitting they were almost at tears during some portions of his presentation. He does it because he wants to make a difference. Theo made it his mission to go out and meet with our workers during lunch, to continue the conversations worth having. Afterwards talking to our team members there was only 1 highlight from the entire day we held – Theo’s talk.
An amazing speaker. Really engaging and speaks from the heart.
Theo held the audience for the full hour, encouraged questions and was extremely effective. Highly rate his presentation.
Rio Tinto Projects
Corangamite Shire Council
A dynamic speaker with excellent presentation skills and the ability to deliver to the target audience. This personal and emotional message should be shared with everyone in the workforce. Overwhelming feedback from construction, mining and electrical workforce teams prompting the safety message discussions about their own or known experiences.
Fortescue Metals Group
Theo is very engaging. He has an incredible story to tell which really moved our people and helped promote conversations in our workplace about safety."
Perth City Link Rail Alliance
I felt so enriched having attended Theo Venter's heart-wrenching presentation on how he survived 22,000 volts. It was truly inspirational to hear how someone was able to overcome such adversities…I think anyone who heard Theo speak would make safety paramount from that moment on.
I would like to personally extend my thanks to you for your efforts in delivering your very powerful story to Ergon Energy Employees across the state, 48 presentations over 26 days.The safety incident that has forever changed your life and that of your friends , workmates and family members is one that hits home hard. The discussions I witnessed with employees was both emotional and confronting. The way in which you openly discuss the failure to follow rules and wear appropriate personal protective equipment contributed to your incident. Followed by the realisation that following the risk management process may well have prevented the incident.Theo I attended the majority of your presentations across Ergon Energy there were differing audiences mixed male & female, large groups , small groups, people who had been involved in serious incidents themselves and all levels of managers. I watched the body language of the attendees and witnessed the shift from just another safety presentation to everyone in the room listening intently to your story. After your presentations I was amazed at some of the intense discussion with the audience.
The road show captivated employees throughout the Ergon Energy network over the month, and once again I thank you for telling your story day after day, week after week, in an attempt to stop something as tragic as your situation happening to others.
Senior Technical Safety Coordinator, Field & Corporate Safety, Ergon Energy
I had a lot of people asking what the presentation was about and some sceptics about seen one safety presentation seen them all.The room was over full. When you see guys walk in the room with chest out, shirt out and sit up the back…….then Theo had them in tears and himself too he later admitted.Today, I saw a group that is usually very vocal, but not one person had anything to say, since the meeting these same people are talking about only one person, Theo.
Safety Support Officer, Ergon Energy
I also had the opportunity to attend the Theo Venter presentation that is currently being rolled out through Operations and Energy Services. Theo was a glove an barrier live linesperson who took off his gloves while performing live line and a flashover occurred. Twenty four operations later and a huge impact on him personally, his family and his work mates Theo is now telling his story. Very powerful stuff.
Theo’s presentation was fantastic. Having someone who is able to speak so well about a significant workplace accident they have survived allows the audience to get a real sense of reality for the everyday decisions they make in the field regarding safety and the potential impact that these decisions can have on their lives. I would thoroughly recommend Theo Venter’s story be delivered to as many people as possible as his potential to change the way people think about their safety through his experience is unique and significant.