SSEN urges farmers to combine harvest and safety

Perthshire farmer, Jim Smith, urges the local farming community to stay safe this harvest time

With harvest season well under way and farmers making the most of each dry day in the coming weeks, Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks (SSEN) is urging everyone working in the fields to “look out, look up” and avoid coming into contact with overhead power lines.

Modern farm machinery can often tower over its smaller 20th century predecessors, and with some modern combine harvesters extending as tall as 4m, there is a real danger that farmers and their colleagues focused on the harvest may forget about overhead electricity lines in the fields where they are working, an oversight that has the potential to cause serious injury, or worse, to those involved.

As part of its harvest safety drive, SSEN has teamed up with Perthshire farmer and comedian, Jim Smith, to produce a series of short videos which they hope will help to highlight not only the risks of striking an electricity line, but also offer up first-hand advice for safer working out in the fields.

Jim said:

“I’m keen to get a safety message over to my fellow farmers and to everyone in the local farming community, and that’s just to be careful out there this harvest time. I know it’s difficult when the weather’s good, the crops are ready and everyone’s going for it, but it only takes a minute or two to observe where the power lines are in every field and where the dangers are.

“The key thing is to always remember to ‘look out, look up’ and take time to check your fields for the location of any electricity lines and poles before you start work.”

Ian Crawley, SSEN’s Network Operational Safety Manager, added: “SSEN wants to help its farming communities to stay accident-free throughout the year and hopes that through the ‘look out, look up’ campaign, we can continue to raise awareness and lower the risks associated with their invaluable work. We’re delighted to work with Jim Smith to spread the message to those working in the field this harvest.”

In addition to this series of harvest-specific videos, the key messages in SSEN’s annual ‘look out, look up’ campaign aim to raise awareness of staying safe while working on the land:

  • ‘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.

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

The Health and Safety Executive website also contains more detailed information on the full range power lines farmers are likely to encounter, as well as invaluable advice for working safely near them.

About the author

Van on rural road

Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks

We're responsible for maintaining the electricity networks supplying over 3.8 million homes and businesses across central southern England and north of the Central Belt of Scotland. We own one electricity transmission network and two electricity distribution networks, comprising 106,000 substations and 130,000 km of overhead lines and underground cables across one third of the UK. Our first priority is to provide a safe and reliable supply of electricity to the communities we serve in Scotland and England.

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