As we face into the winter season, the extra burden of worsening weather conditions and fewer daylight hours can increase the safety risk on the farm without some forward planning and preparation.

As well as risks such as livestock or machinery, farmers need to be aware of the dangers of working near electricity wires.

ESB Networks public safety officer Michael Murray on the Irish Farmers Journal Tullamore Farm. \ Philip Doyle

As electricity is so much part of all our daily lives, we can sometimes take it for granted and may become blind to the risk it poses if not respected and managed correctly around the farm.

With electricity, the most important precaution is to keep a safe distance from overhead wires and poles. When it comes to the wiring on your farm, the advice is to always get the work done by a registered electrical contractor.

By always asking yourself “Are you sure it’s safe?” we can all go home to our families and loved ones safely every day.

Safety tips for outdoors

At this time of year, storms and strong winds can cause damage to electricity wires and poles, so always be alert and keep a safe distance.

Remember, fallen electricity wires are live and therefore dangerous to approach. Report any damage immediately by contacting the ESB Networks emergency number: phone 1800 372 999 (24/7 line).

Check that the Residual Current Device works by pushing the test button. This is located at your electrical distribution board.

Always watch out for electricity wires and cables. Ask yourself the question: “Are you sure it’s safe?

  • 1 Electricity wires are always live; never approach them. Always keep a safe distance because electricity is very powerful and can jump gaps.
  • 2 Wires can become low or fall to the ground when damaged by timber or wind, so always know where wires and poles are on your land, and anticipate dangers, especially when dark.
  • 3 If you see fallen or low wires, keep clear and phone ESB Networks immediately on 1800 372 999.
  • 4 Never use ESB poles or wires to attach things to.
  • 5 Do not work near overhead wires and ring ESB if work is required in the vicinity of wires.
  • 6 If cutting hedges, be mindful of the presence of electricity wires and poles. Always look out and look up for wires and poles and contact ESB Networks before carrying out work near the electricity network.
  • More electricity safety information is available at

    Tim Healy is a contractor cutting hedges and long grass on sharp bends near Foxhaven, Co Wexford. Although outside the permitted time for hedge-cutting, he explains that health and safety is paramount and the bends that he is cutting have become overgrown with grass and hedgerows reducing visibility on narrow roads for farmers moving large machinery. Tim has been cutting hedges in wexford for 42 years. (photo: Philip Doyle) (Tim Healy 0872685056)

    Electrical safety tips this winter

    There is greater demand on electricity use during the winter months.

    Around your home, farm and workplace, you should ensure that all electrical fittings and equipment are in good condition.

    Make sure outdoor lights and portable/temporary electrical equipment is properly rated for outdoor use and plug them into a portable residual current device (RCD, sometimes called a trip switch) for extra safety.

  • Only use electrical equipment that is fit for purpose and in good condition. This includes wiring, light fittings, and sockets.
  • Check for damaged or frayed wires, loose connections, damaged or cracked plugs and any signs of discoloration. With damaged equipment, disconnect from the electricity supply immediately – it is always safer to disconnect remotely at your electrical distribution board. Replace faulty equipment when safe to do so.
  • Electrical equipment generates heat. Always switch it off when not in use and keep any combustible materials clear.
  • Four key steps

  • 1 Always unwind extension leads completely to avoid overheating and don’t overload sockets with adaptors or extension blocks.
  • 2 Check that the RCD works by pushing the test button. This is located at your electrical distribution board.
  • 3 Test your smoke and carbon monoxide alarms to ensure they are working.
  • 4 Always get advice from a registered electrical contractor when carrying out electrical repairs. See for more information.