Working Safely Near Overhead Electricity Power Lines

Overhead Electricity Power Lines (OHPLs) pose a significant risk to those who work nearby. In agriculture, this is mainly caused by equipment or machinery getting too close or coming in to contact with OHPLs.

Machinery doesn’t have to touch the line as electricity can ‘jump’ if a strong conductor (including metal, slurry and water) is close enough. Signs of contact with electricity can include a flash of light, fizzing noises or flames. However, sometimes there can be no signs at all.

When electricity enters something or someone, it takes the shortest and easiest route to earth. This can include through the person in contact with the OHPL or the ground, resulting in electrocution.

Before working near OHPLs, you should assess the risks and carry out the following:

• Avoid working near OHPLs if possible – plan routes that avoid lines or plan other activities, such as bale stacks, away from the OHPL (minimum distance of 10m).
• Check the farm maps and complete a visual inspection to identify the location of OHPLs.
• Measure the height and reach of your machinery and equipment to ensure a safe operating distance.
• If necessary, contact the DNO (Distribution Network Operator) to inform them about the works taking place.

In the event of coming in to contact with an OHPL, stay in the cab and lower any raised parts in contact with the line or try to drive clear of the line.

If this is not possible:

• Phone the electricity operator (or call 105).
• Ensure others outside of the vehicle do not approach it.
• Do not exit the cab until instructed to by the network operator.

If there is a risk of fire or another immediate hazard and you must exit the vehicle:

• Jump out of the vehicle as far as possible, ensuring no contact is made between you, the vehicle and the ground at the same time.
• Then bunny hop (two feet together) or take leaping strides (one foot off the ground at all times) until you are at least 5 metres away.
• Phone the electricity operator (or call 105).
• Do not return to the vehicle until instructed to by the network operator.
• Ensure others stay away from the vehicle. Getting too close or touching it could kill them.

If injury has been caused, phone 999 immediately and follow the instructions of the emergency services.
If you have any further questions regarding Farm Safety, please contact Cari at

Posted in Business Management, Chippenham, News.