Farmers are being warned to drive carefully around overhead power lines or risk losing their lives after a recent spate of accidents in the region.
Since the start of the harvest season, six accidents where lives have been put at risk have been reported to Northern Powergrid involving tractors, trucks or other farm machinery striking cables or support poles.
The electricity company, which looks after overhead power line across the North East, says that coming into contact with overhead lines, especially those operating at high voltage, could prove fatal.
Geoff Earl, director at Northern Powergrid, said: “We have significant parts of our electricity network running over farmland.
“Overhead cables on wood poles can be carrying anything up to 132,000 volts, so we advise farmers at this very busy time to remind their staff to always be aware of where these power lines are and to know the dangers of coming into contact with them.
“Accidentally hitting these cables could prove lethal. It’s easy to misjudge heights and distances, especially when tired or operating in poor light such as at dusk or dawn.
“Electricity can jump gaps so even getting too close to lines can be dangerous.
“Many objects can also conduct electricity such as trees, string, rope and water.”
Northern Powergrid recommends that farmers carry out risk assessments on land prior to their staff carrying out work and certainly prior to harvesting crops, particularly if their staff are contracted in and not familiar with the land.
Farmers’ union the NFU has also reminded its members about the importance of safety during this year’s harvest.
NFU North East county adviser Lucinda Douglas said: “Accidents can happen at any time, whether you are under stress to get the job done or undertaking a routine task.
“What is important is to take a moment to think about what could go wrong. Nobody ever thinks it will happen to them.
“If you have employees, make sure they are all aware of how to use equipment and undertake tasks safely.
“It’s easy to get caught up in the buzz of harvest, so make sure farmers know to put their safety and that of their colleagues first.”