Spring is a busy time on farms and the current inclement weather means that when conditions do improve and allow field work to resume, there is likely to be a rush to get jobs completed.

These situations increase the risks of farm accidents as there is often a tendency to overlook safety concerns.

As the activity on farms increases, this is a good time to take a few minutes to bring farm safety to the forefront of our thoughts and plans for the coming season.

A major danger for everyone on all farms is working with machinery near overhead electricity power lines.

Overhead wires

Coming close to these live wires is extremely hazardous and can be fatal. Typical farm machinery can easily reach overhead electricity wires.

Forage harvesters, combine harvesters, tipping trailers, and moving high loads where there are overhead wires are just an example of the many major risks present.

Recent incidents reported to ESB Networks where poles have been struck and power lines brought to the ground highlight just how important it is to give electricity poles and stays a wide berth when using machinery around the farm.

Contact with stay wires is highly dangerous and great care should be practised when working in the vicinity of poles and overhead wires.

Contact, or even coming close to electricity wires can be fatal. Electricity can jump gaps.

Remember: there are no second chances with electricity.

Prevention tips

Accidents are preventable with careful planning and recognising the potential for unsafe situations. Never take chances with electricity.

Look around you and identify where overhead wires, poles and stays are located.

Steer clear of poles and stay wires.

Do not raise booms, tipper trailors, cranes, ladders, scaffolding or telescopic handlers near overhead wires.

Never try to lift electricity wires – if they are low, contact ESB Networks immediately.

Never tip materials or store bales underneath overhead electricity wires.

Avoid crossing beneath electricity wires and work parallel to the wires.

Risk management

Contact with stay wires is highly dangerous and great care should be practised when working in the vicinity of poles and overhead wires.

If a pole is struck the live electricity wires could fall and may land on the cab or make contact with any attached machinery, putting the driver and anyone else who comes near or touches the equipment at risk of electrocution.

Stay wires are necessary to keep electricity wires at a safe height over ground for the farmer, their families and their neighbours.

When a stay wire is struck, it will either break itself or worse, break the pole and cause the wires to fall.

Our advice is to always report any damage, however small.

We are here to help – before carrying out any works near overhead electricity wires contact ESB Networks 1800 372 757 for advice

If there is a safety issue with clearances over fields or other problems with poles, ring ESB Networks immediately.

ESB Networks staff will always respond to these emergencies, but it is each person’s responsibility to recognise the potential for danger and act safely where there are risks associated with electricity.

If an accident situation arises where any part of your machine is in contact with the electricity line, follow these steps:

5 tips to stay safe

1 Stay in the cab and call ESB Networks at 1800 372 999. Provide the GPS or Eircode for the location.

2 Keep everyone else clear, at least 5m.

3 If you exit the cab (eg because of fire), jump clear and take short steps until you are 5m clear.

4 Do not return or approach the cab or touch any part of the machine until ESB Networks tells you it is safe to do so.

5 Do not, under any circumstances, handle electricity wires or anything they may be in contact with.

If you have any concerns, please phone ESB Networks immediately. In an emergency situation the speed of your phone call could make all the difference.

The emergency contact number is 1800 372 999 (24 hour/ seven-day service).

Save this number in your mobile phone today.