The UK’s electricity network operators have joined forces to ensure those working in the agricultural industry understand the dangers of working near power lines, in a bid to reduce the number of incidents that take place each year.
Despite potentially fatal consequences, over 85% of people never worry about getting too close to an overhead power line, according to the latest research from Energy Networks Association (ENA).
Data from the Health & Safety Executive reveals in the last five years there were five deaths.
In addition, there were also 1,140 near-miss incidents involving machinery and equipment contacting overhead electric power lines where serious injury or death was a possibility.
Fatal incidents involving farm workers in 2016/17 include a 36-year-old who was killed when a trailer he was tipping hit an overhead power line, and an 18-year-old who was electrocuted when he stepped out of his tractor cab after his tipping trailer came into contact with an overhead line.
A 28-year-old died when a vehicle mounted crane he was using came into contact with an overheard line.
Cornish farmer Ian Davey had a near fatal incident when a snap decision during combining had life-changing consequences.
He 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 had I known the advice within Look Out Look Up!. If the campaign helps even one farmer avoid a potentially fatal contact with an overhead powerline, then it is absolutely worth it.”
Nick Summers, Head of Safety, Health & Environment at 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. Our research also showed that there is a misunderstanding surrounding the dangers of overhead power lines, with over two thirds (68%) of people not knowing the minimum distance between the ground and an overhead power line.
“That’s why we have launched this campaign and created a new information film. We want to prevent deaths and injury by making sure people know about the risks of working near overhead power lines, and how to avoid them.”
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