The electricity network operators are today launching a new campaign – Look Out Look Up! – in response to the scale of incidents involving overhead power lines in farms and fields.
Advice for the agricultural and other sectors, such as construction and road haulage, whose work may take place near overhead power lines includes:
- 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.
- Control measures – don’t work near an overhead power line if you don’t have to. Speak to NIE Networks on 03457 643 643 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.
It is crucial that farmers, farm workers and contractors understand that when overhead power lines are damaged or fall to the ground, they should stay well away and contact NIE Networks immediately on 03457 643 643.
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 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.
Ian Davey, a Cornish farmer who had a near fatal incident when a snap decision during combining had life-changing consequences, commented: “Farming can be a dangerous occupation, and there is so much to do that we rush – but that is when accidents happen. The trailer I was in had touched a power line and, as I stepped out of the tractor cab holding the metal door, 11,000 volts shot through my body. I was literally stuck to the spot. The power surge dislocated my shoulder and shattered my arm. Doctors told me that it looked as though somebody had smashed the bone with a sledgehammer.
“It took almost leaving behind my two children and wife to mean I’m now careful and cautious on the farm, always thinking twice before doing anything. Things could have been different for me had I known the advice within Look Out Look Up!. If the campaign helps even one farmer avoid a potentially fatal contact with an overhead power line, then it is absolutely worth it.”