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New campaign warning farmers of dangers of overhead power lines

Farmers are being warned about the dangers of working near overhead powerlines as part of the Look Out, Look Up campaign.
Farmers are being warned about the dangers of working near overhead powerlines as part of the Look Out, Look Up campaign.

Farmers are being warned about the dangers of working near overhead power lines.

Figures show that in the last five years there have been five deaths from machinery getting too close to a power line, with 1,140 near misses in that time.

Now Northern Powergrid has joined forces with fellow UK electricity network operators and the Energy Networks Association (ENA) to ensure those working in the agricultural industry understand the dangers.

They are backing a new national campaign — Look Out Look Up! — which aims to raise awareness and reduce the number of incidents each year, while encouraging people to plan ahead to avoid contact with overhead power lines.

A new film has been created and can be viewed at www.energynetworks.org/electricity/she/safety/safety-advice/overhead-power-lines-safety-campaign
Nick Summers, Head Of Safety, Health and Environment at the Energy Networks Association, said: “There are too many incidents involving overhead power lines and agriculture workers.

“When incidents happen, they are serious. If a person comes into contact with an overhead power line, it will result in death or serious injury.”

Geoff Earl, Northern Powergrid’s Director Of Safety, Health And Environment, said: “Over the years we’ve carried out our own campaigns, as well as engaging with farmers through local agricultural shows.

“Coming together as an industry is welcome as it will strengthen our work to drive home these vital safety messages across our operating area and beyond.

“The campaign and film will raise awareness so we can help prevent deaths and injury by ensuring people know about the risks of working near overhead power lines and what action to take to stay safe.”

Ian Davey, a UK farmer who had a near fatal incident, said: “Farming can be a dangerous occupation, and there is so much to do that we rush, but that is when accidents happen.

“The trailer I was in had touched a power line and as I stepped out of the tractor cab, holding the metal door, 11,000 volts shot through my body. I was literally stuck to the spot.”

“The power surge dislocated my shoulder and shattered my arm. Doctors told me that it looked as though somebody had smashed the bone with a sledgehammer.

“It took almost leaving behind my two children and wife to mean I’m now careful and cautious on the farm, always thinking twice before doing anything. Things could have been different for me.”

National Farmers Union’s Environment and Land Use Adviser James Copeland said: “Every year there are accidents involving power lines on farms, all of which are totally avoidable by taking a few simple steps.

“We advise all farmers in the region to make sure everyone knows where the lines crossing your land are.”

Advice for the agricultural and other sectors, such as construction and road haulage, whose work may take place near overhead power lines includes:

• Risk assess — know where overhead power lines are and mark them on a map. Find out the height and reach of your equipment and how this compares to the maximum working height under overhead power lines.

• Control measures — don’t work near an overhead power line if you don’t have to. Speak to your electricity network operator for advice. Select suitable machinery and equipment and use it safely.

• Know what’s safe, and what isn’t — certain work should be avoided within 10m of overhead power lines, such as stacking bales and potato boxes, operating telehandlers and moving irrigation pipes.

• Know what to do if you come into contact with an overhead power line — if contact is made when you’re in a vehicle, stay in the cab and to try to drive clear. If it is not safe to stay in the vehicle, jump clear of the machine, move away and don’t touch it once on the ground.