Emotive new film urges farm workers to take care near overhead power lines


Agricultural workers across East Anglia and the South East are being urged to stay safe around overhead electricity lines in a new hard-hitting film released today.

From Press releases – 17 January 2018 12:00 AM


The emotive new video highlights 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 launch of the ‘Look Out, Look Up!’ campaign by electricity network operators comes as thousands of farm owners and workers will be visiting the UK’s largest agricultural show, LAMMA, today and tomorrow at the East of England Showground in Peterborough. Look Out Look Up! is encouraging people to plan ahead to avoid contact with overhead power lines and to know what to do if contact is made.

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.

UK Power Networks, which owns power lines that bring electricity supplies to 8million homes and businesses across the East and South East of England, has joined forces with the UK’s other electricity network companies to ensure those working in the agricultural industry understand the dangers of working near power lines, in a bid to reduce the number of incidents that take place each year. Despite potentially fatal consequences, over 85% of people never worry about getting too close to an overhead power line, according to the latest research from Energy Networks Association (ENA).

UK Power Networks’ safety advisers will be at the show today and tomorrow to raise awareness of the potential dangers of working too close to overhead lines and to encourage farm workers to sign their new ‘Be Bright Stay Safe’ pledge.

Peter Vujanic, head of health and safety at UK Power Networks, said: “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, moving a ladder around your garden at home, fishing or kite flying. Every near miss that we hear about could have been a fatality.”

On average, one farm worker dies as a result of contact with an overhead power line every year. There have been five such fatalities in the last five years. There were 39 contact incidents in just four weeks during the 2017 harvest period and with each of these a potential for the vehicle operator or persons standing nearby suffering a fatal electric shock. That’s a risk during harvest of more than one fatality per day.

The risk to farm workers is not only during harvest but all year round. 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.

Nick Summers, Head of Safety, Health & Environment at Energy Networks Association, said: “There are too many incidents involving overhead power lines and agriculture workers. When incidents happen, they are serious. If a person comes into contact with an overhead power line, it will result in death or serious injury. Our research also showed that there is a misunderstanding surrounding the dangers of overhead power lines, with over two thirds (68%) of people not knowing the minimum distance between the ground and an overhead power line.

“That’s why we have launched this campaign and created a new information film. We want to prevent deaths and injury by making sure people know about the risks of working near overhead power lines, and how to avoid them.”

More information about the Look Out Look Up! campaign can be found here: http://www.energynetworks.org/electricity/she/safety/safety-advice/overhead-power-lines-safety-campaign.html




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