Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks (SSEN) is asking farmers to ‘Look out, Look up!’ as it launches its annual safety campaign to raise awareness of the possible dangers of working near overhead power lines and poles.
As farmers and contractors embark on the start of some of the agricultural industry’s busiest months, the electricity network operator is sharing practical advice with the farming communities across the areas it serves in the north of Scotland and central southern England, in a bid to help them avoid potential incidents and accidents related to power supplies.
In the past twelve months, SSEN recorded over 850 incidents on agricultural land across its networks, where third-parties came into contact with poles, overhead lines and cables; resulting in local electricity supplies being disrupted and potentially causing 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 using radio, print press and online messaging as well as issuing the following guidance:
. ‘Look out, Look up!’ before you start 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, for example, if the machinery is affected by fire, it’s 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
Ian Crawley, Head of Safety, Health and Environment (Networks) said:
“Our rural landscape changes throughout the seasons and 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. Trees and hedgerows may have grown since the last time you checked and could now obscure 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.
“It’s reassuring to see that our ‘Look out, Look up!’ campaign is helping to raise awareness and we can see that through the number incidents now being reported through the free-to-call 105 number and the reduction in injuries due to workers either staying in their vehicle or jumping clear, as advised in the campaign.
“Always take the opportunity to risk assess before any work begins – it’s a small step to take that could make all the difference; striking a pole or coming into contact with electrical equipment can have serious and potentially lethal consequences for those involved. SSEN wants to help its farming communities to stay accident-free throughout the year and hopes that through the ‘Look out, Look up!’ campaign, it can continue to raise awareness and lower risk.”