At least one agricultural accident involving overhead lines is reported every day, according to the latest figures.
Every year, we respond to hundreds of incidents in which farm workers and/ or vehicles have come into contact with electricity, usually overhead lines.
Most farming incidents involving electricity are linked to vehicles with elevating equipment, such as spray booms or cabbage harvesters, which make contact with overhead lines.
Others are caused by vehicles using GPS steering, which may not take into account obstacles such as electricity poles, resulting in potentially catastrophic collisions.
We are always happy to give advice to farmers on working around our network and send safety literature upon request. If a farmer suspects the lines across his or her land may be a bit low, we’ll come out and measure them for free and work with the farmer to maintain safety.
Top 5 tips on farming safety
1. Never raise elevating equipment, such as spray booms, cabbage harvesters and trailer bodies, under or close to overhead power lines.
2. Never store or move materials under, or close to, overhead power lines, as this reduces the safe clearance distance beneath the overhead lines.
3. Know the maximum reach and height of any vehicle you are operating, and be vigilant when using GPS – accidents can still happen.
4. You cannot see electricity – the area around a fallen line, including the soil, equipment and other objects, could be live – so stay away.
5. If contact is made with a power line, farm workers are advised to stay in the cab and try to drive clear. If that is not possible, the driver should stay in the cab and call 105, only leaving the machine in an emergency. When leaving the vehicle, they should take care not to hold the machine and touch the ground at the same time; they should take leaping strides or ‘bunny hop’ away so that one foot is off the floor at all times.
The dangers of over-reliance on technology were brought home to this tractor driver when he brought down a 132kV pylon near Grantham.
It’s understood he’d used GPS to program the tractor to operate in straight lines. Distracted by the equipment he was towing, he’d failed to notice he was heading at speed towards the tower and hadn’t applied the brakes.
Fortunately, the driver was not injured and the tractor only had minor damage; so after the overhead wires were secured and the pylon lifted by a telehandler, the tractor was reversed out and carried on working in the next field.
This is a timely reminder of the dangers of working near overhead lines and our equipment and the use of technology.
- Look Out Look Up Leaflet
- Avoidance of Danger from Electricity Overhead Lines and Underground Cables
- Look Out Look up Safety Campaign