Harvest season sparks NIE safety concerns

NIE Safety Engineer Mark Moore advises local farmer John Hill about working safely near the electricity network.
NIE Safety Engineer Mark Moore advises local farmer John Hill about working safely near the electricity network.

Northern Ireland Electricity (NIE), the electricity network company, has launched a new safety campaign to help farmers and agricultural contractors stay safe when working around the electricity network this harvest season.

With over 32,000km of overhead lines running across the country, NIE is encouraging farm workers to be vigilant around the network. In the last year, there have been over 130 incidents in Northern Ireland where farm vehicles have come into contact with the electricity network, and any of these incidents could have resulted in a fatality.

Hal Steele, NIE Safety Engineer, says it’s a busy but potentially dangerous time for the farming community.

Hal said: “At this time of the year with the days starting to shorten, judging heights and distances, especially when tired or operating in reduced light at dusk or dawn, can be challenging for farm workers. Electricity can jump gaps and any contact with overhead powerlines can cause electric shock or death. It’s vital that everyone working near the electricity network makes time for safe working, both when planning work and while carrying it out.”

He added: “Northern Ireland’s farming community is increasingly adopting mobile technology and, as part of this safety campaign, we will be promoting the initiative on our Twitter and Facebook pages. It’s a great way to increase awareness so farmers remember to plan ahead and ‘look up and look out’ while working near the network.

“Highlighting the safety message through social media means farmers have information at their fingertips and will know exactly what to do should their vehicles come into contact with the network. Please share any safety messages with your own followers – it could help save lives.”

NIE hopes that the proactive approach to raising awareness will help reduce the chance of further incidents in the weeks, months and years ahead.

For more safety information go to nie.co.uk. Alternatively follow on Twitter @NIElectricity or like NIE on Facebook at facebook.com/nieapprentices. If you would like to order free cab safety stickers or ‘Safety Saves Lives on the Farm’ leaflet, call on 03457 643 643.