A NEW farm safety campaign alerts farmers to the danger of overhead power lines.

The UK’s electricity network operators have launched the “Look Out Look Up!” campaign following more than 1,000 incidents being reported over five years.

They included five deaths; 1,140 near-misses where serious injury or death was a possibility; and 39 incidents in just four weeks during the 2017 harvest.

But the risk is constant – not just at harvest.

Each year about 225 incidents are reported of farm vehicles and machinery touching overhead lines – typically these involve tipping trailers, lorry-mounted cranes, combine harvesters and telehandlers.

“Look Out Look Up!” urges people to plan ahead to avoid contact with overhead lines and to know what to do if contact is made.

The advice includes:

1 Know where overhead lines are and mark them on a map. Find out the height and reach of your equipment compared to the maximum working height under overhead power lines. Share this with workers and contractors;

2 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;

3 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;

4 When overhead power lines are damaged or fall to the ground stay well away and contact the local electricity network operator on 105;

5 If there is contact with an overhead power line when you’re in a vehicle, stay in the cab and 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;

6 If an incident occurs, contact the network operator by calling the national 24 hour emergency number 105.

A new film highlighting the risks can be found at www.energynetworks.org/electricity/she/safety/safety-advice/overhead-power-lines-safety-campaign.

Ian Davey, a Cornish farmer, had a near fatal incident during combining.

He said: “The trailer I was in had touched a power line and, as I stepped out of the tractor cab holding the metal door, 11,000 volts shot through my body. I was literally stuck to the spot.

“The power surge dislocated my shoulder and shattered my arm.

“Doctors told me that it looked as though somebody had smashed the bone with a sledgehammer.

“It took almost leaving behind my two children and wife to mean I’m now careful and cautious on the farm, always thinking twice before doing anything.”

Nick Summers, head of safety, health and environment at Energy Networks Association, said: “Our research showed that there is a misunderstanding surrounding the dangers of overhead power lines, with over two thirds of people not knowing the minimum distance between the ground and an overhead power line.

“We want to prevent deaths and injury by making

sure people know about the risks of working near overhead power lines, and how to avoid them.”