Campaign backed by Police Scotland and National Farmers Union of Scotland
SP Energy Networks, the network operator for Central and Southern Scotland, has teamed up with Police Scotland and the National Farmers Union of Scotland (NFUS) to raise awareness of the hazards of working close to electricity on farm land following a spate of incidents in the area.
It comes after a recent spot survey* by the network distributor found that while the majority (88 per cent) of Scottish young farmers are aware of what the Danger of Death sign stands for, half (49 per cent) are still not sure what to do in the event of a fallen power line.
The partnership has been announced ahead of this year’s Royal Highland Show where SP Energy Networks will run a series of pyrotechnic demonstrations to show the potentially life threatening effects of coming into contact with electric lines.
In the last year alone, there were 730 incidents on farm land involving electricity across the Central and Southern Scotland regions, an increase of almost 40 per cent on the previous year. Although metal theft incidents have seen a dip since last year, they continue to make up almost 10 per cent of rural incidents reported. Most of these incidents occurred on rural land which is why it is vital that the safety messaging is highlighted to farmers and those living in rural communities.
Over the four day agricultural event, the electricity distributor will demonstrate the potentially devastating consequences of a cable strike, showing what happens when machinery collides with an overhead power line, and highlighting the dangers facing farmers, their employees and their families. Safety experts will also be on hand to talk about the importance of reporting potential safety hazards, such as discovering damaged power lines that have fallen low or to the ground after severe weather.
Guy Jefferson, Director at SP Energy Networks, said: “Every year we see serious incidents involving electricity, many of which could have been avoided. It’s good to know the young farming community in Scotland is aware of the dangers surrounding them, but it’s vital we continue to raise awareness of the potentially fatal consequences. We’re delighted to have Police Scotland and the National Farmers Union of Scotland backing the campaign.
“Working near power lines can prove fatal if the right precautions are not taken. With the increasing height of modern farm machinery, the risk of contacting a power line is more likely now than ever before. We’re at the Royal Highland Show to show these risks in action and urge farmers, farm workers and contractors to be aware of the significant threat of danger.”
Sergeant John Graham, Safer Communities, Police Scotland said: "People who steal metal from power lines are not only committing an offence but are putting their own lives at risk, there have been instances where persons have been injured as a result of their own reckless offending. These thefts create safety issues for emergency services, emergency repair staff and members of the public, including rural communities discovering the thefts. Incidents of power cable theft can also lead to a loss of power to local communities and industries, Police Scotland will ensure that all instances of metal theft will be investigated thoroughly ensuring offenders are brought before the courts.”
Allan Bowie, NFU Scotland’s President, commented: “This can be a busy time of year for farmers and crofters, but it is imperative that they continue to put their safety and that of those working around first. With Farm Safety Week taking place from 4 to 8 July, we encourage farmers and those across the agricultural industry to ensure they take the relevant precautions to avoid injury.
“This can be simply getting out of a tractor the right way, securing a ladder correctly, or carrying out a risk assessment of the surroundings, for example, if they are undertaking irrigation work around electricity lines. Simple precautions could prevent injury and save lives.”
SP Energy Networks owns and manages more than 58,000km of cables and over 18,000 substations across Central and Southern Scotland.
For more information please contact Jen Ward or Georgia Lea, Stripe Communications, on 0131 561 8628 or at firstname.lastname@example.org
*Survey conducted with the support of the Scottish Association of Young Farmers in June 2016
Notes to Editors
SP Energy Networks owns and operates the electricity transmission and distribution network in Central and Southern Scotland. As the network operator it maintains and repairs the electrical equipment and network assets that transport electricity to around 2 million homes and businesses in the area.
Guidance on working safely near overhead power lines can be found on the HSE website at: http://www.hse.gov.uk/pubns/gs6.htm