Farmers urged to ‘look out’ for power lines

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A Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks (SSEN) safety campaign is calling for farmers to ‘look out, look up!’ when working near overhead power lines and poles.

Across its electricity networks, SSEN wants to highlight the possible dangers faced by the agricultural industry as farmers and contractors approach the busiest months of their year. It is sharing practical advice with the farming community in a bid to help them avoid incidents and accidents related to power supplies.

Last year, SSEN recorded more than 780 incidents on agricultural land across its infrastructure where third-parties came into contact with poles, overhead lines and cables, cutting off local electricity supplies and having the potential to cause serious injury, or worse, to those involved.

To ensure that farmers and their teams are armed with the knowledge they need to stay safe in the field this summer and beyond, SSEN is issuing the following advice: ‘Look out, look up!’

Before starting work in any areas where electricity lines are present; risk assess and be aware of the height of machinery that will be in use near lines and ensure there’s plenty of clearance – remember that electricity can ‘jump’ if an object comes near enough; if you do come in to contact with an overhead line or cable, stay in your cab or vehicle and try to avoid touching anything metal within it; call 105 immediately – this is the UK-wide single emergency number for power companies and is the quickest way to put you through to the correct network operator; if the situation is too dangerous to stay put, i.e. if the machinery is affected by fire, then it is advised that you leap out of the vehicle as high and as far as you can to avoid touching any part of the machinery or electricity network.

Richard Gough, head of safety, health and environment (networks) explains: ‘The ‘look out, look up!’ message encourages anyone working in the field to take stock of their surroundings and the overhead lines that may run across or into the land, as our rural landscape changes by the season.

‘Trees and hedgerows may have grown since the last time you checked and now obscure the nearby lines, intense heat in the summer can cause lines to sag slightly and working with different styles or heights of machinery may bring you closer to the lines than in previous years.

‘Always take the opportunity to risk assess before any work begins; striking a pole or coming into contact with electrical equipment can have serious and potentially lethal consequences for those involved.

‘We want to help farming communities to stay accident-free throughout the year and hope that through the ‘look out, look up!’ campaign, we can continue to raise awareness and lower risk.’

Further information on staying safe when working near power lines can be found at http://www.ssen.co.uk/ SafetyLeaflets