Two of Suffolk’s largest employers have joined forces together to drive home the life-saving message of staying safe around electricity.
UK Power Networks, which distributes electricity across the East of England, teamed up with British Sugar to warn of the dangers of contact with overhead power lines. It follows concerns that too many farmers are taking unnecessary risks.
A recent farm safety session held in Lakenheath sought to highlight the dangers of working close to power lines. Attendees included contractors who deliver beet to British Sugar — as well as independent for farmers.
Among the points covered on the day were awareness of risks around the power network. Safe working practices — including requesting overhead power line plans ahead of harvesting and loading crops onto vehicles — were also highlighted.
Ros Forbes, a safety advisor at UK Power Networks who led the session, said: “We want to prompt collaborative working and positive conversations about safety which, ultimately, will help save lives.
“It was a hugely positive day where we took the time to remind people who work with British Sugar of the need to have electrical safety front of mind with extra care always needed around overhead power lines.
“Our advice is always to be vigilant, to look up and around to see what electrical equipment is near you if driving or using agricultural machinery. British Sugar take safety very seriously and gave us tremendous backing and support to deliver our message.”
Clare Beaumont, Beet Delivery Service manager at British Sugar, said: “Nothing is more important than the safety of our colleagues and partners across the British beet sugar industry.
“Working in collaboration with UK Power Networks is a proven way of ensuring the right messaging about electrical safety can be shared and understood. The day was a real success, with a lot of positive feedback from those present.
Ms Beaumont added: “It is an exercise we plan to repeat in future years.”
UK Power Networks say the four groups with the highest number of safety incidents around overhead power lines during the past five years have been road hauliers, farmers, tree surgeons and builders.
A recent ‘Think, Plan, Locate’ initiative has seen the electricity distributor join forces with others, including both the national Road Haulage Association and the NFU.
It said safe working procedures were vital to reduce the risk of accidents near overhead power lines. These include manoeuvring, loading or unloading vehicles which risk coming into contact with electrical equipment.