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Farmers Beware


WPD and all the UK’s energy network operators have joined forces to today launch a national campaign today ‘Look Out Look Up!’ The campaign aims to encourage people to plan ahead to avoid contact with overhead power lines and to know what to do if contact is made. 

On average, one farm worker dies each year as a result of contact with an overhead powerline. In the last five years, there were 1,140 near-miss incidents involving machinery and overhead power lines where serious injury or death was a possibility. 

Advice for the agricultural and other sectors, such as construction and road haulage, whose work may take place near overhead power lines, includes: 

  • Risk assess – know where overhead power lines are and mark them on a map. Find out the height and reach of your equipment and how this compares to the maximum working height under overhead power lines. Share this information with workers and contractors. 
  • Control measures – don’t work near an overhead power line if you don’t have to. Speak to your electricity network operator for advice. Select suitable machinery and equipment and use it safely.
  • Know what’s safe and what isn’t – certain work should be avoided within 10 metres of overhead power lines, such as stacking bales and potato boxes, operating telehandlers and moving irrigation pipes.
  • It is crucial that farmers, farm workers and contractors understand that when overhead power lines are damaged or fall to the ground, they should stay well away and contact their local electricity company by telephoning 105.
  • Know what to do if you come into contact with an overhead power line - if contact is made when you’re in a vehicle, stay in the cab and to try to drive clear. If that is not possible, jump clear of the machine, move away and don’t touch it once on the ground.
  • Call 105 – if an incident occurs, contact your network operator by calling the national Freephone 24 hour emergency number 105.
The risk to farm workers is not only during harvest but all year round. Annually, approximately 225 reported incidents occur where farm vehicles and machinery make contact with overhead lines – typically these incidents involve equipment such as tipping trailers, lorry mounted cranes, combine harvesters and telehandlers. Not only does each incident have the potential to kill or seriously injure those workers involved, there are also financial costs in terms of damaged and destroyed equipment and lost time.

Ian Davey, a Cornish farmer who had a near fatal incident when a snap decision during combining had life-changing consequences, commented:

“Farming can be a dangerous occupation, and there is so much to do that we rush – but that is when accidents happen. The trailer I was in had touched a power line and, as I stepped out of the tractor cab holding the metal door, 11,000 volts shot through my body. I was literally stuck to the spot. The power surge dislocated my shoulder and shattered my arm. Doctors told me that it looked as though somebody had smashed the bone with a sledgehammer.

“It took almost leaving behind my two children and wife to mean I’m now careful and cautious on the farm, always thinking twice before doing anything. Things could have been different for me had I known the advice within Look Out Look Up!. If the campaign helps even one farmer avoid a potentially fatal contact with an overhead powerline, then it is absolutely worth it.”

The gas and electricity network operators are urging those at risk to Look Out and Look Up for overhead powerlines. Plan ahead to prevent contact with overhead power lines and what to do to reduce the risk of injury if contact is made.

Paul Woodward, WPD Safety Manager, said:

“There are too many incidents involving overhead power lines and agriculture workers. When incidents happen, they are serious. If a person comes into contact with an overhead power line, it will result in death or serious injury. 

“That’s why we have launched this campaign and created a new information film. We want to prevent deaths and injury by making sure people know about the risks of working near overhead power lines, and how to avoid them.”

Find out more about the campaign by watching the farm safety video accompanying the campaign and get more information here.

We also have some top tips to keep safe on our Farming Safety page.


Contact us

Emergency information

0800 6783 105

General contact enquiries

0800 096 3080