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Farmers urged to take care around electrical equipment

Farmers will be looking to make the most of the fine weather as the harvest season approaches – but working in agriculture comes with dangers too.

From Press releases - 12 July 2017 12:00 AM

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Experts at UK Power Networks are urging farmers and agricultural workers to take extra care when working close to power lines and other electrical equipment, at one of the farming calendar’s busiest times of the year.

According to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), agriculture is Britain's most dangerous industry. Although only 1.5 per cent of the working population is employed in agriculture,  four people were killed in the UK last year and many more were injured when they come into contact with overhead power lines and cables.*

With this in mind, UK Power Networks, which delivers electricity across the East of England, London and the South East, is asking farmers and agricultural workers to be vigilant when working out in the fields. Safety experts from the company are busy visiting country fairs and shows to reinforce the safety message.

Farm works should take extra care when they are:

• ploughing
• using irrigation pipes and ladders
• using combine harvesters
• loading or unloading vehicles
• using tipper wagons or trailers in fields
• stacking materials

If a piece of machinery or equipment gets too close to or comes into contact with an overhead cable, electricity will be conducted through the metal machine or equipment to earth. It may also pass through anyone who is touching it. Electricity can also arc – jump across gaps – so farm workers do not have to actually touch the lines to get a serious or fatal shock.

Ros Forbes, the power firm’s public safety and education adviser said: “Working near an electricity supply network, whether substations, underground cables or overhead lines, can place employers and employees at risk of serious injury if they don’t take care.

“We want farmers to be extra vigilant and be aware of the potential risks. Accidents often happen when people are tired - for example, at the end of a long day. Taking these simple precautions can help significantly reduce the risk of death or serious injury. “

Here are Ros’ tips to keep you safe if you work in the fields:

• make sure you know the location of underground electricity cables and overhead electricity power lines on your land

• contact UK Power Networks for copies of plans showing where equipment is and put this information on your farm map

• tell visitors, contractors or casual workers about the presence of electricity cables and lines

• be extra careful when ploughing, using irrigation pipes and ladders and combine harvesters

• check around you when loading or unloading vehicles, using tipper wagons or trailers in fields or stacking materials.

UK Power Networks has published detailed guidance for farm workers on how to stay safe near overhead power lines, on leaflets and offers free vehicle ‘Look up,  Look Out’ stickers – both can be requested on www.ukpowernetworks.co.uk