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Powerful safety message delivered to future farmers

Farmers of the future are learning about the potential dangers of getting too close to power lines as part of their agricultural courses.

From Press releases - 7 February 2018 12:00 AM

Agricultural students George Carter and Seb Rhodes help promote safe working near powerlines.jpg

Safety advisers from UK Power Networks, which delivers electricity supplies to 8million homes and businesses across the East and South East of England, are heading to classrooms across East Anglia to highlight the potential dangers and urge the students to stay safe when working near overhead lines or electrical equipment.

There were 1,140 near-miss incidents involving machinery and equipment making contact with overhead electricity lines and five deaths in the UK in the last five years, according to Health and Safety Executive figures. Typically these incidents involve equipment such as tipping trailers, lorry mounted cranes, combine harvesters and telehandlers.

Ros Forbes, the power firm’s public safety and education adviser was speaking to agricultural students at the College of West Anglia in Cambridge today (Wednesday) as part of the company’s programme to get across important safety messages to young farmers at colleges across the region.

She said: “It is vital we get these crucial safety messages across at the very start of the students’ agricultural careers in the hope they will carry this awareness of safe working with them in the future.

“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. Every near miss that we hear about could have been a fatality.”

Frances Cook, agricultural director at College of West Anglia, said: “Teaching our students about the importance of safety is a core part of our curriculum and this new campaign will help to reinforce this message in a very real way.”

Last month, an emotive new video was launched to highlight the potential risks of agricultural equipment accidentally coming into contact with power lines, causing power cuts, injury or death. The film vividly depicts the tragic consequences when a farmer hits a power line while stacking bales, and his young daughter is at school unaware:

The ‘Look Out, Look Up!’ campaign was launched to coincide with the UK’s largest agricultural show, LAMMA in Peterborough last month. Look Out Look Up! encourages people to plan ahead to avoid contact with overhead power lines and to know what to do if contact is made.

Annually, approximately 225 reported incidents occur where farm vehicles and machinery make contact with overhead lines. Not only does each incident have the potential to kill or seriously injure those workers involved, there are also financial costs in terms of damaged and destroyed equipment and lost time.

People working in agricultural and other sectors, such as construction and road haulage, who work near overhead power lines are advised to:

• 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.
• 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.
• When overhead power lines are damaged or fall to the ground, stay well away and contact the 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 it is not safe to stay in the vehicle, jump clear of the machine, move away and don’t touch it once on the ground.
• Call 105 if an incident occurs. According to the ENA, over four in five people do not know the free power cut helpline.