Northern Powergrid’s first social media campaign targeted at the region’s digital savvy agricultural community has appeared more than 69,000 times on news feeds of twitter users across the region.
The company, which is responsible for safely delivering electricity to 3.9 million homes and businesses, targeted twitter users who had an interest in agriculture to deliver vital safety messages to help local farmers stay safe during the harvest season.
The twitter campaign used the “Look up – Stay Safe” message to urge farm workers to be extra vigilant around overhead power lines which can cause serious or fatal electrocution if farm machinery comes too close or accidentally touches them.
The two-week campaign raised awareness by appearing more than 69,000 times on news feeds. More than 900 people engaged directly with the posts helping to spread the campaign and 136 people clicked to download Northern Powergrid’s free Working together with agriculture to save lives guide which provides potentially lifesaving information about working near power lines.
Large sections of Northern Powergrid’s network crosses farmland with some overhead cables on wood poles carrying anything up to 132,000 volts. Judging heights and distances, especially when tired or operating in reduced light at dusk or dawn, can be challenging for farm workers and electricity can jump gaps of between one and seven metres, depending on the voltage of the power line. Also objects such as trees, string, rope and water can conduct electricity.
Northern Powergrid recommend that farmers always carry out risk assessments on land prior to starting work, especially prior to harvesting crops and if they have contracted in staff who may not be familiar with the land.
Geoff Earl, Northern Powergrid’s Director of Safety, Health and the Environment, said: “We knew the farming community had a really strong social media presence so it made perfect sense to use twitter to help spread our lifesaving ‘Look Up, Stay Safe’ message. It’s really important to increase awareness so farmers remember to plan ahead and ‘look up’ while working. Farmers need to understand the potentially fatal consequences of coming into contact with our overhead lines, especially those operating at high voltage, and know exactly what to do if something should happen to them.
“We’ve already visited key agricultural shows across the region to spread our vital safety message handing out specially designed key rings and pens, containing scrolls with vital safety advice, and in-cab air fresheners aimed at reminding farm workers to look up and be aware of any power lines where they’re working. The social media campaign has proved a great way of complementing our more traditional harvest season messaging.”
In 2014 there were 18 incidents across the region involving tractors and other farm machinery contacting high voltage conductors on Northern Powergrid’s 29,000 kilometre network of overhead power line. Fortunately none of the incidents were fatal.
To date in 2015 there have been three incidents, one involving a farm worker in northern Lincolnshire whose vehicle made contact with a live 11,000 volt overhead line resulting in them being hospitalised with burn injuries. Northern Powergrid hopes that its proactive approach to raising awareness will help reduce the chance of further incidents in the weeks, months and years ahead.
Northern Powergrid’s free ‘Working together with agriculture to save lives’ guide is available on www.northernpowergrid.com and the company’s contact centre is open all day, every day on 0845 070 7172.