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A new safety campaign aims to stop farmers and farm workers from electrocuting themselves on overhead power lines. Safety initiative targets farmers ahead of harvest

A new safety campaign aims to stop farmers and farm workers from electrocuting themselves on overhead power lines.

Farmers are among four groups of workers with the highest number of safety incidents involving overhead power lines during the past five years. The others are road hauliers, tree surgeons and builders.

Some 18% overhead line incidents during 2020 involved farmers, according to electricity distributor UK Power Networks. It said a further 44% involved road hauliers, 16% involved tree surgeons and 12% small or self-employed builders.

To help reduce the number of accidents, a new ‘Think, Plan, Locate’ initiative will see UK Power Networks join forces with the NFU and the National Road Haulage Association for a new safety campaign.

Moving vehicles

With harvest approaching and the silage season under way, safe working procedures to reduce accident risks near power lines are essential. These include when moving, loading and unloading vehicles which could come into contact with electrical equipment.

UK Power Networks safety advisor Ros Forbes said: “Safety is our number one priority and we saw a rise in incidents when locked down eased last summer, so it’s timely to remind people again of the dangers.”

Ms Forbes added: “Our research has shown us the trades and professions most in danger and we sense that a focus on being Covid-secure, has led to less of an emphasis on electrical safety in some areas.”

Touching high voltage cables could be fatal, said Ms Forbes. Accidental contact with live overhead power lines causing many serious injuries. 

Reducing risk

The new campaign will remind people to take care and concentrate on their safety. The goal is to prompt collaborative working and positive conversations about safety which will ultimately help save lives.

NFU farm safety advisor Tom Price said: “Almost all contact incidents can be avoided altogether – the key is planning. Find out where power lines are and make sure everyone knows – workers and contractors.”

Farmers should also make sure they know the height and reach of their machines – and the height of lines. This is especially so when bringing new, large or unfamiliar machinery on to the farm, said Mr Price.

“If you suspect lines are low contact UK Power Networks and ask them to check – the service is free. Our advice is don’t rely on GPS and other tech to avoid lines – you must always be alert when driving any machine near a line.”

Free cab stickers for farm vehicles can be obtained by emailing