SP Energy Networks Encourage Farm Workers To Stay Safe As HSE Reports Rise In Number Of Injuries


As harvest continues, farmers and farm workers in North Wales are being encouraged to put safety first when working near overhead electric power lines, in a joint effort by SP Energy Networks, The Anglesey Show and the Health & Safety Executive (HSE).

In the Merseyside and North Wales area last year alone, 10 injuries occurred on farm land, an increase of 150% on the previous year. In addition there were 160 incidents involving farmers which could have resulted in injury or death[1].

Direct contact with live electrical equipment, even at the lowest voltage, can be fatal - overhead power lines can carry electricity at up to 400,000 volts.

Accidental contact with power lines can be caused by operating machinery near power lines, but there are other risks too; a jet of water or slurry can cause discharge of electricity and in bad weather conditions, power lines can fall to the ground or drop to a lower level. Whether they are sparking, damaged or appear unaffected, power lines can remain live so it’s vital that farmers are aware of the precautions to take, to keep people and livestock away and contact SP Energy Networks via the emergency telephone number.

Farms are also increasingly becoming a target for criminals attracted to the power lines for the scrap value of metal and despite legislation to tighten up controls on the sale of scrap metal, the  number of incidents of vandalism and theft are increasing year on year so it is important that farmers are vigilant and report any suspected interference because of the impact on electricity supplies to customers, particularly those that are medically dependant, and the potential public safety hazard thieves leave behind them.[2] 

SP Energy Networks, who manages more than 10,000km of cables and over 30,000 substations across its network, are taking their safety message to the Anglesey Show to give farmers and farm workers in the North Wales area the information they need to keep themselves and their livestock safe should they come across fallen power cables or if their machinery hits overhead power lines.

SP Energy Networks will host a series of dramatic pyrotechnic displays during the two day show highlighting the potentially devastating consequences of machinery colliding with an overhead power line during the two day agricultural event and provide guidance and advice on working safely near the electricity network.

Guy Jefferson, Operations Director at SP Energy Networks said:

“Farmers and farm workers are really busy at this time of year harvesting their crops, so it is paramount for them to be aware of the potential hazards that working in close proximity to overhead lines can present.

“While our engineers are working with famers all year round educating them about the risk of working close to power lines, our partnership with Anglesey Show will help us reinforce the message of the dangers of working close to overhead power lines, which can cause potentially fatal or serious injury.

“I would encourage farmers and farm workers to familiarise themselves with the yellow and black ‘Danger of Death’ sign on our equipment and take a few minutes to think about what action they need to take in an event of a cable strike to ensure they minimise risks to themselves and others. By showcasing the risks, we hope we can help workers be informed and to stay safe.”

Alastair Mitchell, an Inspector with the Health and Safety Executive’s Agricultural Safety Team also points out the dangers of working close to power lines.

“Working near power lines can prove fatal if the right precautions are not taken. In the last ten years there have been 11 work-related deaths in the agricultural sector caused by contact with overhead power lines.  With the increasing height of modern farm machinery such as telescopic handlers and combine harvesters, the risk of contact with a power line is much more likely now than ever before.”

“I would encourage farmers and farm workers to watch the SP Energy Networks demonstration at the Anglesey Show and to read HSE’s guidance on how to work safely.  Planning the job and assessing the risks are important, but operators should also know what action they need to take in the event of a cable strike to ensure they minimise risks to themselves and others.” 

Wil R Williams, Director of the Anglesey Show said:

"We are pleased that the Anglesey Show is able to provide a valuable platform to support SP Energy Network’s aim to promote the dangers of farmers working close to power lines at such an important time in the industry."

Guidance on working safely near overhead power lines can be found on: http://www.spenergynetworks.co.uk/pages/safety.asp

Notes to Editors:

ScottishPower Energy Networks owns and operates the electricity transmission and distribution network in the south of Scotland and the distribution network in Cheshire, Merseyside and North Wales.

As the network operator it maintains and repairs the electrical equipment and network assets that transport electricity to around 3.5 million homes and business.
Guidance on working safely near overhead power lines can be found on the HSE website at http://www.hse.gov.uk/pubns/ais8.htm

For more information please contact Jenny Stewart Stripe Communications on 0131 561 8670 or at publicsafety@stripecommunications.com

[1] http://www.hse.gov.uk/
[2] http://www.hse.gov.uk/

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