UK Power Networks issues winter warning to hauliers

The country’s biggest electricity distributor has launched a powerful new winter safety drive aimed at saving the lives of road hauliers.

UK Power Networks has joined forces with the Road Haulage Association to promote safe working procedures near overhead power lines and reduce the risk of serious accidents.

With the darker winter evenings another potential danger, the company is cautioning that contact with overhead power lines can result in life changing injuries or even death. Powerlines can be harder to spot in poor light conditions.

Workers operating tipper trailers, grab lorries or skip hire vehicles must know where the electricity network is before they start work. Distractions, visiting unfamiliar sites, long working days and rushing to get the job done can all impact on safety.

The number of incidents involving hauliers has reduced in the past year, but they remain involved in 15% of contact with powerlines in London, the South East and East of England and, unlike the previous 12 months, there was one reported injury.

Pete Short, Head of Business Development for the Road Haulage Association, says, “Working around overhead power lines can be extremely hazardous so we encourage operators to make sure their drivers and other relevant colleagues are familiar with this guidance to help keep people safe.”

Ros Forbes, a Safety Advisor at UK Power Networks which owns and runs overhead electricity networks across the East and South East of England, says, “Everyday distractions mean it can be easy to lose focus of our environment and the potential hazards around us.

“Taking a moment to assess the job we are doing and carry out your own checks can give you that time to step back, re-evaluate and ensure you work safely. We have seen a fall incidents, but we have had a serious injury this year which we didn’t have last year.

“We urge hauliers to stay safe by ensuring that mandatory checks for power lines becomes part of their everyday routine when operating vehicles or machinery.”

UK Power Networks has issued these guidelines to help keep hauliers working at and visiting sites safe:

THINK about the type of work you are doing and consider the height of the equipment and vehicles needed for the job. Do you know the maximum reach of your vehicle when fully extended, does it have the potential to come into contact with overhead powerlines? Always look up and check for powerlines.

PLAN every job. Can it be carried out safely? Identify the location of overhead power lines in the vicinity of the work and across entrances and exits. Barriers and warning signs should be used to maintain safe clearances. Can you operate your vehicle safely? Have you been briefed where the overhead powerlines are?

LOCATE the electricity network. Look up and around before loading and unloading and check for overhead power lines. If you need to move your vehicle to another area, make sure you check for overhead power lines again. Never raise the bed of a tipper lorry underneath an overhead power line or drive under the line with the body of the vehicle raised.

The company is urging everyone to check where the power lines are on work sites, and treat all lines as potentially ‘live’. If there is a potential hazard, everyone working on site must be informed. Hauliers should also add the freephone electricity emergency number 105 to mobiles.

If any part of your vehicle touches an overhead powerline…

  • Stay in the cab
  • Call 105 for the electricity company and dial 999
  • Try to drive clear and warn others to stay clear
  • If you need to get out – jump well clear so that no contact is made between you, the vehicle and the ground at the same time.
  • Never touch the vehicle once you are on the ground
  • Run well clear – using leaping strides
  • Do not return to the vehicle – the wires may re-energise without warning
  • Keep everyone away

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