A 5.2% rise in clashes between people involved in agricultural activities and main electricity supply lines has prompted a vivid warning from the main supply company.

Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks (SSEN) is urging everyone across the agricultural industry to stay safe and ‘Look out, look up!’ when working near overhead power lines and poles.

The safety campaign aims to share practical advice with the farming community; helping them avoid potential incidents and accidents involving electricity infrastructure.

In the past 12 months, SSEN has seen an increase in the number of incidents on farms and fields across its network, with 910 callouts compared to 865 in the year before.

These reported  incidents, on agricultural land across SSEN’s network areas, were the result of third-parties coming  into contact with the distribution operator’s poles, overhead lines and cables, resulting in local electricity supplies being disrupted and potentially causing serious injury, or worse, to those involved.

To ensure that farmers, crofters. contractors and their teams are armed with the knowledge they need to stay safe in the field, SSEN’s safety campaign is using radio and online messaging as well as issuing the following guidance:

  • ‘Look out, look up!’ before you start work in any areas where electricity lines are present.
  • Risk assess and be aware of the height of machinery that will be in use near lines and ensure there’s plenty of clearance – remember that electricity can ‘jump’ if an object comes near enough.
  • If you do come in to contact with an overhead line or cable, stay in your cab or vehicle and try to avoid touching anything metal within it.
  • Call 105 immediately – this is the UK-wide single emergency number for power companies and is the quickest way to put you through to the correct network operator.
  • If the situation is too dangerous to stay put, for example, if the machinery is affected by fire, it’s advised that you leap out of the vehicle as high and as far as you can to avoid touching any part of the machinery or electricity network 

Ian Crawley, SSEN’s Network Operational Safety Manager, said: “Farmers, their staff and contractors are working harder than ever to maintain and manage their crops while adhering to current Government guidelines on working during the coronavirus pandemic, and here at SSEN we want to ensure that we are doing what we can to help them stay safe at the same time.

“While it’s both worrying and disappointing to see the number of farm-related incidents on the rise, the year-on-year increase is slowing down, which is hopefully a sign that the ‘Look out, look up’ campaign is having a positive impact across the farming community.

“The rural landscape may change throughout the seasons, but our ‘Look out, look up!’ message stays the same all year round, and everyone working in the field should take stock of their surroundings and the overhead lines that may run across, or into their land.

“Always take the opportunity to risk assess before any work begins – it’s a small step to take that could make all the difference; striking a pole or coming into contact with electrical equipment can have serious and potentially lethal consequences for those involved.

“SSEN wants to help its farming communities to stay accident-free throughout the year and hopes that through the ‘Look out, look up!’ campaign, it can continue to raise awareness and lower the risks associated with their invaluable work.”

SSEN is encouraging farmers and agricultural workers with any concerns relating to electrical infrastructure on their land to report this by sending a photograph directly to SSEN’s teams via the Power Track App, available to download on the App Store and Google Play Store.

If you would like further information on staying safe when working near power lines, please visit https://www.ssen.co.uk/safety/.