A SPECIAL safety alert has been issued to farmers by the latest sponsors of the Three Counties Farming Awards.

Western Power Distribution (WPD), the sponsor of this year’s Young Farmer award, is urging farmers to follow a few simple steps to stay safe and avoid injury, or even death, around electricity.

WPD is the electricity network operator for Gloucestershire, Herefordshire and Worcestershire, as well as the rest of the Midlands, South West England and South Wales.

By reminding farmers of the dangers, WPD hopes to cut the number of accidents in which farm workers and their vehicles come into contact with electricity, sometimes with devastating results.

The latest figures show that at least one agricultural accident involving overhead lines is reported every day.

When accidents do happen, WPD is embracing the latest technology to allow its teams to respond more quickly.

The What3words app enables accident locations to be pinpointed quickly and accurately, even if they take place in rural and isolated areas, such as fields and farmland.

Eddie Cochrane, WPD Safety Advisor, said: “Every year, we respond to reports of farmers and farm workers who have come into contact with electricity, usually overhead lines.

“By following our simple message to ‘Look Out! Look Up!’ and stay away from electricity, they can not only help to cut the number of incidents; they can save lives.

“But, where accidents do occur, the What3words app means we can respond even more quickly to provide help and hopefully minimise damage and injury.”

Damage and costs

Farmers may also incur large financial costs from damage to equipment such as poles and pylons, running into tens of thousands of pounds.

Many farming accidents involve farm vehicles fitted with Sat Nav or other automated steering systems, which do not take into account poles, pylons and overhead lines nearby.

Additional risks are posed by objects, such as straw bales or even new buildings, being placed too close to overhead lines.

In an electricity emergency, farm workers should call 105, the national emergency number. If contact is made with a power line, they 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 contact 105, only leaving the machine in an emergency.

When leaving the vehicle, farm workers 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.

Top tips for electricity safety outdoors:

• Never store materials, such as straw bales, under or close to overhead powerlines, as this increases the risk of contact with overhead lines;

• Know the maximum height and reach of any vehicles you are operating;

• You cannot see electricity – the area around a fallen line, including the soil, equipment and other objects, could be live - so stay away.

For more information, go to www.westernpower.co.uk/farmsafe

  • The Three Counties Farmer Awards highlight best practice and honour those who have done outstanding work across the region.

Judging is taking place now and the winners will be announced at a special online live broadcast on November 26 hosted by BBC Countryfile presenter Adam Henson.

For more information go to Herefordtimes.co.uk/awards/tcf