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‘Stay in the cab and ring 105’ - tips for working around overhead power lines

On average, one farmer a year will be killed from contact with an overhead power line.

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‘Stay in the cab and ring 105’ - Top tips for working around overhead power lines

Cases last year were particularly bad, with the Health and Safety Executive recording more the 350 incidents across the whole of the UK.

 

Northern Powergrid health, safety and environment director Geoff Earl said during his time in the role, he had seen an increase in farm vehicle contact with overhead power lines.

 

The organisation is again pushing its ‘Look Up It’s Life’ safety campaign to encourage farmers to be aware of the dangers.

 

Mr Earl said: “It is about trying to get farmers and landowners switched on to their health and safety responsibilities around overhead power lines.”


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Northern Powergrid is offering advice to the industry about how to avoid contact, with site safety services available if farmers would like a face-to-face chat about any of the risks.

 

On what to do if a farm vehicle comes into contact with power lines, Mr Earl said: “The first thing is to stay in the cab and ring 105.

 

“The worst thing for anyone to do is to open the door and step down. People get burnt and electrocuted.

 

Danger

“It is not the initial flash, bang and sparks.”

 

By calling 105, farmers in danger will be put through to their local distribution network operator and Northern Powergrid will send field staff to the site to assess the line for damage and arrange for it to be safely removed.

 

“The danger is that if these contacts go unreported,” Mr Earl said. “Stay in the cab. If there are sparks or something catches fire, then the way to get out is absolutely not to step out.

 

“Take a leaping jump clear of the vehicle. It is a nasty experience, but not a fatal one.”

Figures from the Energy Networks Association showed that in the last five years, there were 1,140 near-miss incidents involving machinery and overhead power lines where death or serious injury was a possibility.

 

Ros Forbes, education and engagement advisor at UK Power Networks, said behaviour had a huge impact on safety.

 

The organisation is also running a safety campaign: Be Bright, Stay Safe.

 

Ms Forbes said: “Bad habits, rushing, distractions and time pressures, coupled with tiredness, long working days operating machinery and warm weather, will increase the risks of coming into contact with machinery.”

Harvest top tips

UK Power Networks has put together some advice for farmers prior to starting work at harvest.

  • Mark overhead power lines on your farm map and always tell visitors, contractors and staff where they are;
  • Know the maximum reach of your vehicle and take into consideration the height of any add-ons such as aerials;
  • Stay alert and vigilant when using GPS or auto steer systems;
  • Always look up and around for power lines before harvesting, using irrigation pipes, loading or unloading vehicles, using tipper wagons or trailers in fields;
  • Avoid stacking materials and crops too close to or under overhead power lines;
  • Always assume overhead power lines are live;
  • 0800 31 63 105 or simply 105 is the new emergency and power cut number – put it into your phone and share with friends and colleagues.
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