The recent inclement weather is delaying preparations for this year’s silage season but, with a positive forecast on the horizon, hopefully plans will quickly get back on track.

It is surprising how fast the silage season will come round and the fact that there has been delayed turnout in most parts of the country may lead to silage being cut earlier in places.

At ESB Networks, we want to provide a safe and secure electricity infrastructure. Live electricity wires are always near and coming close can be dangerous.

With this in mind, ESB Networks is reminding all farmers and agricultural contractors to make sure they take care by staying clear of electricity wires and poles. Electricity is a powerful force that has the potential to cause life-changing injuries or fatalities if not given the respect it deserves.

An increase in farm activity during the busy summer months worryingly corresponds with an increase in reports of serious accidents and near misses involving machinery and overhead electricity wires.

Most accidents occur because of failure to notice the overhead wires and to take sensible precautions. Taking a few minutes to read this safety message and remind yourself of the risk will hopefully help to eliminate risks at a later date.

Accidents are preventable by planning ahead, taking care and recognising an unsafe situation. Never take chances with electricity. By applying the good safety practices in this article, we can all make sure we get home safe to our families at the end of every day

When moving high loads or operating large farm machinery, make sure to be mindful of electricity poles, stays and wires overhead.

  • Staying clear and putting a safe distance between you and overhead electricity wires is the best way to stay safe, as electricity can jump gaps.
  • Identify where overhead wires, poles and stays are located. Keep a watchful eye out when travelling around the farm (particularly if the farm layout has changed) or on public roadways. Share these locations with anyone coming on to the farm to carry out works.
  • When farming, plan your work to avoid crossing underneath or near to overheard electricity wires and only do so when you are sure you have at least 3m between your highest point and the wires. Work parallel to the wires, where possible, but always keep to the 3m rule.
  • Never stack bales or store any farm materials or equipment underneath overhead electricity wires. This could put you in danger when using loaders or could be used as a climbing aid by a child or unsuspecting person, putting them at risk of electrocution.
  • There is a very real danger of electrocution if a machine or attachment strikes either the pole or the stay, leading to the pole breaking and live wires coming to the ground or landing on the plant. Stay wires are essential to keep the overhead wires from sagging and when they are damaged, the wires can be lower than they should be which is then a danger for everyone in the area.
  • Never try to lift electricity wires – if they are low, contact ESB Networks immediately.
  • Report Any Damage Immediately

    If you have any concerns, no matter how small you think they are, please phone ESB Networks immediately at 1800 372 999. In an emergency situation, the speed of your phone call could make all the difference and save someone from serious injury. Our call centre operates 24/7, 365 days a year.

    Steps to stay safe

    If a machine or its attachments come into contact with an overhead line, it could be fatal for anyone who touches the machine. These are the steps that should be taken in the event of a hit on an overhead power line.

    1 Keep 10m clear - the driver of a vehicle that comes into contact with overhead lines will usually remain safe in the cab of the vehicle. Other people are at risk if they make simultaneous contact with the vehicle (and anything attached to it) and the ground. Keep everyone clear of the vehicle, at least 10 metres.

    2 Get help – you, or someone else, should contact ESB Networks’ emergency number (1800 372 999) immediately. If you have GPS coordinates or an Eircode for the location, please pass them on to ESB Networks.

    3 Jump clear – if you must leave the cab, jump well clear and do not make contact with any part as you exit. Land on your feet and take small ‘baby’ steps until you are 10m clear. Crawling is not a safe option.

    4 Stay clear – do not go back to the vehicle, even if you think it is safe to do so. It may still be live. Nobody should approach the vehicle until ESB Networks has confirmed that it is safe to do so.

    Advice on overhead electricity wires

    We are here to help – for general queries and advice, contact ESB Networks for information and advice at 1800 372 757 or 021 238 6555 to speak with our contact centre. Contact ESB Networks at least four weeks in advance so that the work can be planned.

    Further information is available in our ‘Farm Safely With Electricity’ booklet. You can read this by scanning the QR code, using your smartphone camera.