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Focus on farm safety

Safety experts from electricity firm UK Power Networks will be urging farmers at the two-day Lamma agricultural show to take extra care when working close to power lines and other electrical equipment.

From Press releases - 9 January 2017 12:00 AM

Safety experts from electricity firm UK Power Networks will be urging farmers at the two-day Lamma agricultural show to take extra care when working close to power lines and other electrical equipment.

The firm, which delivers electricity to the East of England, London and the South East, has a stand at the event, which is being held at the East of England Showground in Peterborough on January 18 and 19. The annual event – now in its 36th year – is the UK’s leading farm machinery, equipment and services show and is attended by around 40,000 farmers over the two days.

According to the *Health and Safety Executive, agriculture is one of Britain's most dangerous industries and there have been eight fatalities resulting from people coming into contact with electricity lines in the past decade. This includes a 34-year-old man who died last year (2015/16), when his vehicle hit overhead power lines while he was collecting hay bales from a farm, in the South East. 

With this in mind, UK Power Networks safety experts are urging farmers and agricultural workers to be vigilant when working, highlighting the dangers of ploughing, using irrigation pipes and ladders, using combine harvesters, loading or unloading vehicles, using tipper wagons or trailers in fields and 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 arc - jump across gaps - so farm workers do not have to actually touch the lines to get a serious or fatal shock.

Ros Forbes, a UK Power Networks safety expert who will be at the Lamma event, said: “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.”

Top tips for agricultural staff to keep agricultural staff safe while working in the fields include:

• 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 consider putting 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 in the form of downloadable leaflets. The farming help sheet is available here.