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July 1, 2013

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Farmers warned on dangers of working under power lines

Energy firm ScottishPower Energy Networks is promoting a new campaign to encourage farmers to put safety first when working near overhead power lines.

The company has joined forces with the HSE and the Royal Highland and Agricultural Society of Scotland (RHASS) ahead of the harvest season. Last month, ScottishPower attended the Royal Highland Show in Ingliston, Edinburgh, where it held a series of demonstrations using pyrotechnics to show the potentially fatal consequences of machinery colliding with an overhead power line.

ScottishPower Energy Networks manages more than 100,000km of cables and over 30,000 substations across its network. The company’s CEO Frank Mitchell said: “We have seen some serious incidents involving farm workers across our network in the last few months, most of which were avoidable. As well as the risk of serious injury, incidents like this can also affect power supplies to local homes and businesses.

“All year round our engineers work closely with local farmers as part of our ongoing campaign to reduce accidents, and we hope that our partnership with RHASS will help ScottishPower Energy Networks continue to increase safety awareness.”

HSE agricultural safety team inspector Alastair Mitchell explained that it is common for farmers and the general public to mistake electric power lines for telephone wires. He advises everyone to make themselves aware of the yellow and black triangle ‘Danger of Death’ warning sign, which is displayed on poles, pylons and equipment.  

“Operators should know what action they need to take in the event of a cable strike to ensure they minimise risks to themselves and others,” said inspector Mitchell. “It is not only equipment and machinery that presents a danger. A jet of water or slurry can cause discharge of electricity and a high risk of fatal, or severe injury.”

Guidance on working safely underneath overhead power lines is available on the ScottishPower Energy Networks website.

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