Power operator calls for safer working on farms as over 11 overhead power lines incidents are reported in the last two years in the North West

West Lancashire MP Rosie Cooper and Electricity North West, the region’s power network operator, are urging all those that work on farms across West Lancashire to think about the dangers of working near overhead power lines in a bid to reduce the number of potentially fatal incidents that take place each year.

More than 11 near miss incidents involving overhead power lines on farms have been reported in the North West, including one fatality.

Electricity North West has also joined forces with other electricity network operators across the country to raise awareness as research carried out by the Energy Networks Association (ENA) shows that despite potentially fatal consequences, over 85% of people in the UK never worry about getting too close to an overhead power line.

On average, one farm worker dies in the UK each year as a result of contact with an overhead power line. There have been five such fatalities in the last five years and 39 incidents in just four weeks during the 2017 harvest period across the country, each incident having the potential to kill.

In response, a new campaign video called ‘Look Out Look Up!’ has been launched to encourage people to plan ahead to avoid potentially fatal incidents and inform people what they need to do if contact is made.

Rosie Cooper, MP for West Lancashire, said:
“West Lancashire is home to a thriving agricultural industry worth over £250m and providing hundreds of jobs, that’s why with so many workers in the fields I am highlighting this campaign and encouraging them to Look Out, Look Up!

“Operating large farm machinery can be dangerous at any time, but as research suggests, many don’t realise overhead wires as one of those dangers.”

Vincent Cranny, head of health, safety and environment for Electricity North West, said:
“The electricity network includes thousands of miles of overhead power lines and poles providing power to more than five million people across the North West which is why we are proud to be supporting this important farm safety campaign.

“This is a very serious safety message and the yellow danger of death sign is there to warn and remind people not to work or go near the power lines and we urge those that work on farms to stay safe by looking out and looking up.”

Phil Latham, Cheshire County Chairman and farm safety campaigner for National Farmers Union, said:
“Every year there are accidents involving power lines on farms -; all of which are totally avoidable.

“My advice to my fellow farmers in the region is firstly make sure everyone knows where the lines crossing your land are. This means the farmer, their staff and visitors -; especially delivery drivers and harvest staff. Don’t stack under or near lines. Lastly check the height of lines on your land. If there is a problem and they are too low get in touch with Electricity North West and get the problem solved.”

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 the 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 it is not safe to stay in the vehicle, 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 24 hour emergency number 105. According to the ENA, over four in five people do not know the number to call in case of an abnormality in electricity supply in their home or workplace.

More information about the Look Out Look Up! campaign can be found here: http://www.energynetworks.org/electricity/she/safety/safety-advice/overhead-power-lines-safety-campaign.html

Electricity North West is the region’s electricity distribution network operator, proud to power the lives of five million people in the North West. From heating homes to charging cars and streaming TV shows, ENW work around the clock to keep you switched on for today and tomorrow.

ENW is investing £1.8bn from 2015-2023 in the overhead lines and underground cables that serve the region and last year delivered the best reliability ever seen in the North West.

The way we use electricity is changing rapidly. ENW is at the forefront of energy innovation, working with local communities, key stakeholders and expert partners to ensure everyone has the power they need when they need it.

Visit www.enwl.co.uk for more information and follow ENW on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn. During a power cut or other emergency, check for updates online or call on 105.

Safety figures: Figures are safety related incidents in Great Britain notified by electricity distribution network operators (DNOs) to the Health and Safety Executive as per the Electricity Safety, Quality and Continuity Regulations (ESQCR).

Regulation 31 of ESQCR places a duty on those working on, or owning power network apparatus such as generators and distributors, meter operators and others to report deaths or injuries to members of the public, or near misses, fires or explosions which have occurred as a result of work on or near to electrical systems by others, or incidents arising from leisure and other non-work activities in proximity to electrical plant, or from equipment failure. (http://www.hse.gov.uk/statistics/tables/esqcr.xlsx)

Details of work-related fatalities in GB are published by the Health and Safety Executive, see: http://www.hse.gov.uk/statistics/fatals.htm and http://www.hse.gov.uk/foi/fatalities/

Energy Networks Association (ENA) is the voice of the networks representing the ‘wires and pipes’ transmission and distribution network operators for gas and electricity in the UK and Ireland.

In Great Britain, there are six electricity Distribution Network Operators (DNO) that are responsible for the electricity networks that deliver energy from the national transmission networks into people’s homes and businesses 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Details of network operators are available at www.energynetworks.org.

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