Farm workers urged to take care near overhead power lines

The UK's energy network operators have joined forces to launch a national campaign which highlights the potential risks of agricultural equipment accidentally coming into contact with power lines.

Farm workers urged to take care near overhead power lines

The ‘Look Out Look Up!’ campaign aims to encourage people to plan ahead to avoid contact with overhead power lines and to know what to do if contact is made.

On average, one farm worker dies each year as a result of contact with an overhead powerline. In the last five years, there were 1,140 near-miss incidents involving machinery and overhead power lines where serious injury or death was a possibility.

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. Share this information with workers and contractors.
  • 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 10 metres of overhead power lines, such as stacking bales and potato boxes, operating telehandlers and moving irrigation pipes.
  • It is crucial that farmers, farm workers and contractors understand that when overhead power lines are damaged or fall to the ground, they should stay well away and contact their local electricity company by telephoning 105.
  • 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 that is not possible, jump clear of the machine, move away and don’t touch it once on the ground.
  • Call 105 – if an incident occurs, contact your network operator by calling the national Freephone 24 hour emergency number 105.

The gas and electricity network operators are urging those at risk to Look Out and Look Up for overhead powerlines. Plan ahead to prevent contact with overhead power lines and what to do to reduce the risk of injury if contact is made.

Paul Woodward, Western Power Distribution safety manager, 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.

“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.”

Peter Vujanic, head of health and safety at UK Power Networks, said: “Life can change in a heartbeat when someone inadvertently hits an overhead power line. When people are tired or engrossed in their work they may forget the potential dangers above them. Taking a few minutes to Look Out, Look Up!’, plan and avoid overhead power lines is the best way to stay safe when you are working outdoors, moving a ladder around your garden at home, fishing or kite flying. Every near miss that we hear about could have been a fatality.”


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