A farmworker had a lucky escape after his tractor hit a National Grid electricity pylon – demolishing the structure and causing a major power outage.
Emergency services were called to the incident at Flawborough Farms, which left some 1,300 homes without electricity on the border between Nottinghamshire and Lincolnshire.
A video of the scene shows the pylon toppled over – with the tractor entangled in the a mesh of twisted metal and electricity cables.
See also: Campaign highlights power line dangers
The accident – involving a well-trained and experienced tractor driver – occurred while the machine was cultivating a field at 11am on 21 August 2017.
Farmer Tom Hawthorne posted the video this week as warning to others.
“Stay safe everyone,” he said. “Things like this do and will happen.”
The accident happened while the machine was on auto-steer, allowing the operator to concentrate on the job behind him.
The driver suffered no lasting effects from the accident – despite a poor mobile phone signal which meant a 15-minute delay in help arriving.
It took two days to free the Claas Xerion tractor, which suffered minor cosmetic damage.
On average, one farmworker dies each year as a result of contact with an overhead power line – with five such fatalities in the past five years.
Over the same five-year period, there were also 1,140 near-miss incidents involving machinery and equipment contacting overhead power lines where serious injury or death was a possibility.
During the 2017 harvest period, there were 39 contact incidents in just four weeks – each with the potential for the vehicle operator or persons standing nearby to suffer a fatal electric shock.
This week, UK electricity network operators joined forces to launch a new campaign aimed at reducing the number of on-farm incidents involving power lines.
Despite potentially fatal consequences, more than 85% of people never worry about getting too close to an overhead power line, said the Energy Networks Association (ENA).
‘Look out’ campaign
Incidents where farm vehicles and machinery make contact with overhead lines typically involve tipping trailers, lorry mounted cranes, combine harvesters and telehandlers.
The Look Out Look Up! campaign aims to encouraging people to plan ahead to avoid contact with overhead power lines and to know what to do if contact is made.
ENA head of safety Nick Summers 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. 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.”
Stay safe near power lines
Assess risk 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 your electricity network operator for advice. Select suitable machinery and equipment and use it safely.
Avoid danger Certain work should be avoided within 10m of overhead power lines, such as stacking bales and potato boxes, operating telehandlers and moving irrigation pipes.
Know what to do 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.
Stay away It is crucial that farmers, farmworkers and contractors understand that when overhead power lines are damaged or fall to the ground, they should stay well away and contact their local electricity network operator by telephoning 105.
Call 105 If there is an incident, contact your network operator by calling the national 24-hour emergency number 105. According to the Energy Networks Association (ENA), more than four in five people do not know the number to call in case of an abnormality in electricity supply in their home or workplace.