Overhead power lines safety campaign targets at-risk farmers

Farmers have been reminded about the dangers of overhead power lines after research showed they are among the four groups most at risk of coming into contact with the high-voltage cables.

UK Power Networks said road hauliers, farmers, tree surgeons and builders had the highest number of safety incidents around overhead power lines during the past five years.

See also: How to work safely near overhead power lines on farmland

Figures for 2020 show that 44% of overhead line incidents involved road hauliers, 18% involved farmers, 16% tree surgeons and small or self-employed builders made up 12% of the tally.

UK Power Networks has launched its Think, Plan, Locate campaign, with support from the NFU, the Road Haulage Association and other groups.

The initiative will remind workers and employers to concentrate on safety and plan properly.

This includes manoeuvring and loading or unloading vehicles which risk coming into contact with electrical equipment.

‘Planning is key’

Tom Price, farm safety and transport adviser for the National Farmers’ Union, said: “Almost all contact incidents can be avoided altogether, the key is planning. Find out where power lines are and make sure everyone knows – workers and contractors.

“You should know the height and reach of machines, and the height of lines. If you suspect lines are low, contact UK Power Networks and ask them to check – the service is free.

“Our advice is don’t rely on GPS and other tech to avoid lines; you must always be alert when driving any machine near a line.”

Ros Forbes, a safety adviser at UK Power Networks, said the electricity distributor saw a rise in incidents when lockdown eased last summer.

“Our research has shown us the trades and professions most in danger, and we sense that a focus on being Covid-secure has led to less of an emphasis on electrical safety in some areas.

“This new Think, Plan, Locate initiative builds on the work of our Be Bright Stay Safe pledge, and is there to remind people to concentrate on their safety.

“We want to prompt collaborative working and positive conversations about safety which, ultimately, will help save lives.

“Taking time to plan, informing workers and contractors where the power lines are, being prepared and focusing on the way you work, can help keep people safe.”