FARMERS are being urged to follow a few simple steps to ensure they stay safe around electricity, this Farm Safety Week (July 20-24).

Electricity network operator Western Power Distribution (WPD) is speaking out in the hope of cutting the number of accidents in which farm workers and their vehicles come into contact with electricity, sometimes with devastating results.

The latest figures show that at least one agricultural accident involving overhead lines is reported every day.

Eddie Cochrane, WPD safety advisor, said: “Every year, we respond to reports of farmers and farm workers who have come into contact with electricity, usually overhead lines.

“By following our simple message to ‘Look Out! Look Up!’ and stay away from electricity, they can not only help to cut the number of incidents; they can save lives.”

Farmers may also incur large financial costs from damage to equipment such as poles and pylons, running into tens of thousands of pounds.

Many farming accidents involve farm vehicles fitted with Sat Nav or other automated steering systems, which do not take into account poles, pylons and overhead lines nearby.

Additional risks are posed by objects, such as straw bales or even new buildings, being placed too close to overhead lines.

Yeovil Express:

'LOOK OUT, LOOK UP': That's the warning from WPD

In an electricity emergency, farm workers should call 105, the national emergency number. 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 105, only leaving the machine in an emergency.

Farmers are encouraged to use the What3words app which makes it easier for WPD teams to locate and respond to incidents in rural and isolated areas.

When leaving the vehicle, farm workers 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.

Top tips for electricity safety outdoors:

• Never store materials, such as straw bales, under or close to overhead powerlines, as this increases the risk of contact with overhead lines;

• Know the maximum height and reach of any vehicles you are operating;

• You cannot see electricity – the area around a fallen line, including the soil, equipment and other objects, could be live - so stay away.