Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Power lines campaign to stay safe on the farm this summer

May 31, 2018 by  
Filed under News & Business

Electricity companies have joined forces ahead of harvest to highlight the dangers of working near power lines.

One farm worker dies each year from contact with an overhead power line. Yet 85% of people never worry about getting too close – despite potentially fatal consequences, according to the Energy Networks Association (ENA).

Power line incidents have resulted in five deaths in the last five years, according to the Health & Safety Executive. There were also 1,140 near-miss incidents involving machinery and equipment contacting overhead electric power lines where serious injury or death was a possibility.

During the 2017 harvest, there were 39 contact incidents in just four weeks – a risk of more than one fatality per day. Each of these had the potential for the vehicle operator or people nearby to suffer a fatal electric shock.

High-reach equipment

But the risk to farm workers is not only during harvest – it is all year round. Some 225 reported incidents occur annually where farm vehicles and machinery make contact with overhead lines – typically involving high-reach equipment.

These incidents involve tipping trailers and telehandlers as well as combine harvesters. Each has the potential to kill or seriously injure those involved – with additional financial costs in terms of damaged and destroyed equipment and lost time.

Fatal incidents in 2016/17 include a 36-year-old who was killed when a trailer he was tipping hit an overhead power line. In another incident, an 18-year-old was electrocuted when he stepped out of his tractor cab after his tipping trailer came into contact with an overhead line.

Avoid contact

A film created as part of the Look Out Look Up! campaigns highlights the potential risks. It encourages farmers, contractors and farm workers 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.”

ENA research suggests 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.”

The Look Out Look Up! film can be seen at www.bit.ly/LookUpLookOut

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