Power company connect with Suffolk farmers around safety

More than a hundred Suffolk farmers were at an NFU-led event hosted by electricity distributor UK Power Networks at the company’s training centre in Risby. Photo: UK Power Networks.

More than 100 farmers attended an event in Risby with a focus on electrical safety ahead of the harvest season.

UK Power Networks is working with the National Farmers’ Union to talk to farmers about a range of potential issues including overhead power lines awareness, safe working practices and knowing what to do in an emergency.

The electricity distributor is sending safety advisors to a series of NFU-led events being held at farms across the East of England.

 The company wants farmers to understand that contact with high voltage electricity cables can be fatal.

 The main risk is farm machinery coming into contact with overhead power lines, and advice being offered at the safety talks incorporates:

  • The importance of planning ahead. Mark overhead and underground power cables on farm maps and inform all staff, contractors and visitors of where they are;
  • Know the maximum reach of all machinery and consider how it can be used safely. Look up and check around you before loading or unloading, using tipper wagons or trailers in fields and when stacking;
  • Stay alert and vigilant when using GPS auto steer systems. Always assume power lines are live;
  • Know how to exit your vehicle in case of an emergency – keep at least 10 metres away from fallen power lines; and
  • Take special care in dark or poor light conditions especially when tired. Call 0800 3163105 or just 105 in an emergency. Download the What3Words app to help explain your location.

Ros Forbes, safety advisor at UK Power Networks, said: “We are pleased to be working closely with the NFU to be able to reach out directly to farmers and get across safety messaging which could potentially save lives. The Risby event was a great starting point and well attended.

“Around a fifth of all contact with high voltage electrical equipment on our networks involves the agricultural industry – meaning farmers are at risk of injury or even death so we are determined to raise awareness of the potential dangers on their land.

“Taking time to plan, informing workers and contractors where the power lines are, being prepared and focusing on the on the way you work, can help keep people safe.” 

Charles Hesketh, a regional policy manager for the NFU across East Anglia, said: “Agriculture has one of the worst track records for accidents of any industry and sadly the number of fatalities year on year is not coming down. Initiatives such as our series of Health and Safety events are vital for raising awareness and helping to break down the stigma that can be attached to on farm safety.

“We are delighted that UK Power Networks is helping to support these events across East Anglia reaching around 700 farmers just ahead of the busy harvest period when combines, tractors and telehandlers will all be out in full force.

“Sharing information and providing clarity and solutions to both prevent incidents from happening in the first place and guidance if the worst were to happen will prove to be invaluable for both keeping on the lights and keeping our farmers safe.”

A farming safety video can be viewed at Farming Safety Animation – Be Bright Stay Safe – UK Power Networks – YouTube

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