Electrical safety still a concern

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28 September 2022
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Adam Henson warns agricultural workers to stay safe whilst working. 

CELEBRITY farmer and TV presenter, Adam Henson, has partnered with network provider, SP Energy Networks, to front a new series of safety videos aimed at preventing electrical incidents from happening on farmland.

The latest Fatal Injuries in Agriculture report, issued by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), reveals that 25 people were killed on farms in England, Scotland, and Wales in the past year.

Agriculture also has the worst rate of worker fatal injury per 100,000 of the main industrial sectors: 21 times higher than the all-industry rate.

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With over 30 years’ of experience working on farms, Adam has shared his top tips to address safety issues that can be found on farms across the UK, ranging from safely passing under overhead powerlines whilst operating machinery to what to do if a powerline falls on your land. 

Adam said: “I’m all too aware of the potential dangers of working on farmland. From not being aware of how big machinery is to not properly planning out your farm routes, these are real threats which can lead to injury and even death. Such accidents can be prevented." 

Adam’s top tips are: 
•    Have the national 105 electrical emergency helpline number close to hand. If anyone is injured, please call 999 for medical attention.
•    Look out! Look up! When working on farmland near overhead powerlines, be mindful of machinery and its size as it passes underneath – particularly if working with new machinery, extendable machinery, and bigger equipment.
•    Plan ahead: carefully plan your routes, including access points and don’t stack or store items directly under overhead lines. Make sure to review both the maximum heights of your vehicles and the heights of the power lines on your land.
•    Map it out: mark up a farm map with routes, operating voltages and approximate heights of overhead power lines running across your land, near boundaries and access routes to fields. If you don’t have a map of your farm, contact your network operator for a network plan. Any underground cable routes in or around your land should also be recorded. You can always get in touch with your network operator if you’re unsure about the equipment on and nearby your land.
•    Beware of fallen powerlines: In the event of a powerline falling on your land, we would advise taking extreme caution. Powerlines can remain live, even if they appear unaffected, so it’s essential to keep people and livestock away, then contact the electricity network operator via the 24/7 electrical emergency hotline number, 105. If anyone is injured, or the incident occurs in a populated area, please call 999 for medical attention.
•    Tell others about potential hazards: Ensure that you inform staff, contractors, and delivery drivers of potential electrical hazards on the farmland before any work begins.
•    Leaping Strides: If your vehicle encounters an overhead powerline, do not exit the cab until given confirmation by the electricity network operator that it is safe to do so. If the machine is inoperable and there is a risk of an immediate hazard to you and you need to exit, you must jump clear, do not step down. Then make leaping strides so that one foot is always off the ground until you are at least 5 metres away.

Derek Bell, Health & Safety Director at SP Energy Networks, said: “Farm safety should always be a priority and we hope the safety advice Adam shares in these videos helps raise awareness of the simple but important ways agricultural workers can stay safe whilst working on farmland.”

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