Smart farmers

News

UK: 100 additional power line accidents every year

British farmers are urged to take extra care when using GPS systems with their tractors, following a surge in the number of agricultural accidents involving overhead lines.

According to the Grantham Journal, Western Power Distribution (WPD) is warning that accidents involving electricity are endangering life and costing farmers thousands of pounds a year.

1 accident per day reported

The latest figures show that at least 1 agricultural accident involving overhead lines is reported every day – up by more than 100 a year, from 263 in 2013 to 378 in 2018. Additionally, in the last 5 years, there have been more than 1,140 near misses involving electricity on farmland.

Text continues underneath tweet

The Grantham Journal pictures a Claas Xerion that was working on autosteer in Nottinghamshire when the tractor hit a powerline pylon. The pylon and lines were brought down. Nobody was injured in the accident.

Sprayers

Most accidents involve farm vehicles fitted with automated steering systems which do not take into account poles, pylons and overhead lines nearby. It’s however not only tractors hitting powerline pylons. Every once and a while, sprayers anywhere in the world hit overhead powerlines with folded or folding up spray booms. This not seldomly results in fatal accidents.

Text continues underneath image

Most accidents involve farm vehicles fitted with automated steering systems which do not take into account poles, pylons and overhead lines nearby. - Photo: Mark Pasveer
Most accidents involve farm vehicles fitted with automated steering systems which do not take into account poles, pylons and overhead lines nearby. - Photo: Mark Pasveer

Stay alert with autosteer

Ian Brooks, WPD Distribution Manager for South Lincolnshire, said: “Thanks to data analytics and GPS most tractors can now drive themselves and precisely calibrate their movements to minimise wasted fuel, fertiliser or seed. But, although automation works well in many ways, drivers and operators still need to be diligent in the cab, not switch off and stay alert.”

Ian Brooks:

The cost of repairing damage to equipment such as poles and pylons is passed on to the farmer and, in some cases, can run into tens or even hundreds of thousands of pounds

“What many farmers may not realise is that, as well as the obvious safety implications, there are almost certainly going to be financial consequences. The cost of repairing damage to equipment such as poles and pylons is passed on to the farmer and, in some cases, can run into tens or even hundreds of thousands of pounds,” said Ian Brooks.

Text continues underneath tweet

Mr Brooks continued: “Our campaign is all about working together. We want to give farmers the information and advice they need to be aware of the dangers and do their jobs safely so that we, in turn, can operate the network safely.”

Text continues underneath image

"Although automation works well in many ways, drivers and operators still need to be diligent in the cab, not switch off and stay alert," says Ian Brooks, WPD Distribution Manager for South Lincolnshire. - Photo: Jan Willem van Vliet
"Although automation works well in many ways, drivers and operators still need to be diligent in the cab, not switch off and stay alert," says Ian Brooks, WPD Distribution Manager for South Lincolnshire. - Photo: Jan Willem van Vliet

Stay on your vehicle

In an electricity emergency, farm workers should call the national emergency number (105 in the UK). If contact is made with a power line, they are advised to stay in the cab and try to drive clear. If that is not possible, the driver should stay in the cab and contact the national emergency number, only leaving the machine in an emergency.

‘Bunny hop’ away

When leaving the vehicle, they should take care not to hold the machine and touch the ground at the same time; they should take leaping strides or ‘bunny hop’ away so that one foot is off the floor at all times.

Or register to be able to comment.