Overhead power line warning as harvest approaches

Figures for 2020 show that 18% of overhead line incidents were through farming
Figures for 2020 show that 18% of overhead line incidents were through farming

The UK's biggest electricity distributor has launched a new initiative designed to save farmers' lives by urging them to be aware of overhead power lines.

Farmers, along with road hauliers, tree surgeons and builders, belong to the most at-risk groups when it comes to overhead power lines.

Figures for 2020 show that 44% of overhead line incidents were through road hauliers, 18% farmers, 16% tree surgeons and self-employed builders 12%.

UK Power Networks' new 'Think, Plan, Locate' initiative will see them join with the NFU to educate farmers on safe working procedures.

With lockdown easing across England, undertaking farm safety measures to reduce the risk of accidents near overhead power lines is essential, the firm said.

These include manoeuvring, loading or unloading vehicles and tractors, which risk coming into contact with electrical equipment.

Touching high voltage cables can be fatal: accidental contact with live overhead power lines kills people and causes serious injuries every year.

People are also harmed when a person or object gets too close to a line and a flashover occurs.

Ros Forbes, safety advisor at UK Power Networks, said: "We saw a rise in incidents when locked down eased last summer, so it’s timely to remind people again of the dangers.

“Our research has shown us the 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."

Tom Price, farm safety and transport advisor for the NFU, called on farmers, farm workers and contractors to find out where power lines were.

"You should know the height and reach of machines and the height of lines," Mr Price added.

“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.”

Free cab stickers for farm vehicle operators to use in their vehicles can be obtained by emailing MBX-HSSkit@ukpowernetworks.co.uk.