Shock Horror – Working Safely Near Overhead Powerlines

On average, one farm worker dies each year as a result of contact with overhead power lines.

Add to this the 300+ high voltage and extra high voltage incidents reported by the Health and Safety Executive in 2018 and we know there is a mounting issue that needs to be addressed…

Northern Powergrid has reported a worrying rise in the number of accidents involving farmers and overhead power lines across the North East, Yorkshire and Northern Lincolnshire following a consistent downward trend. Declining from 48 in 2014 to 28 incidents in 2017 (a 41% reduction) – there has been a spike with 34 already this year. So we have asked the team at Northern Powergrid to give us some straight talking, myth-busting around this hazardous element of farm work.

Hamish Mackie, Health and Safety Engineer at Northern Powergrid explains: “There are a range of possible reasons behind this increase, and last summer’s hot weather presented a particularly big challenge. It resulted in a shortage of cattle feed meaning more had to be transported around the country to meet demand. This meant more haulage vehicles on the roads and on farm land, making the possibility of accidents much more likely.

What’s more, many of the incidents involved inexperienced seasonal workers, or haulage contractors drafted in to help during busy harvests. Unfamiliar with the land and location of power lines, they are often unaware of the risks and don’t know what to do if they come too close to or hit power lines.”

Northern Powergrid want to ensure that all farm workers know the potentially life-threatening consequences of coming too close to power lines and know what to do in an emergency.

Hamish continues:

“We’re asking farmers to refresh themselves on our simple safety advice and spread the word to colleagues and seasonal workers. And remember, for non-urgent enquiries and to get our free in-cab safety stickers and air fresheners you can email us at”

Staying safe near power lines
• Inform anyone working near power lines of the dangers and the action they should take in an emergency.
• Remember you don’t need to make contact with a power line to be in danger. Electricity can jump to an object or person – so stay well clear!
• Ground levels may have changed since your last visit, reducing clearance. Risk assess every situation on every occasion.
• Always carry a mobile phone and store 105, the number to call in an emergency.

Stay alive, call 105
You may be familiar with the 105 safety advice number as the one to call during a power cut. But it actually goes way beyond just power cuts. Here’s some common myths that we’ve debunked to help you get the most out of the number and stay safe:

Myth: 105 is only for power cuts. I have to call another number in an emergency.
Fact: Wrong. You can also call 105 if you spot damage to power lines and substations that could put you, or someone else, in danger. If there’s an immediate risk, call the emergency services too.

Myth: I can’t call 105 if I have no credit.
Fact: 105 is a free service, available to everyone in England, Scotland and Wales.

Myth: Every region has a different safety advice number.
Fact: Actually, 105 will put you through to the electricity network operator in your area.

What to do in an emergency
• Drive well clear if safe to do so and call 105.
• If unsafe to drive clear – stay in the cab, call 105, and warn others to stay clear.
• If unsafe to stay in cab – jump well clear. Do not step down or make contact with the vehicle and the ground at the same time.
• Leaping strides – Land with both feet together and make leaping strides away, so that one foot is always off the ground.
• Warn others to stay clear. Damaged power lines can stay live or become live at any time without warning.

If you want to learn more :

  • Northern Powergrid’s website HERE
  • Energy Networks Association – Look Out Look Up! HERE
  • Farm Safety Foundation – Working with Overhead Power lines HERE
  • HSE – HERE
stephanie_berkeley_zl4u2oa9Shock Horror – Working Safely Near Overhead Powerlines