Farmers using GPS autosteer tractors are causing power outages by colliding with

“But what many farmers may not realise is that, as well as the obvious safety implications, there are almost certainly going to be financial consequences.“The cost of repairing damage to equipment such as poles and pylons is passed on to the farmer and, in some cases, can run into tens or even hundreds of thousands of pounds.”The number of reported accidents has increased in the last five years – from 378 reported incidents in 2018 compared to 263 in 2013, according to official health and safety figures.In the same five-year period, there have been 1,140 near misses involving electricity on farmland.The Energy Networks Association (ENA) and the UK’s electricity network operators are now running the ‘Look Out Look Up!’ campaign with the aim of encouraging farmers to plan ahead to avoid colliding with power lines.David Spillet, Head of Safety, Health & Environment at ENA, said: “Keeping people safe is a top priority for the energy networks. The network companies are working hard with the Health & Safety Executive and the farming communities to make sure that everyone is aware of the dangers of overhead power lines and can take appropriate action to stay safe.”Stuart Roberts, Vice President at National Farmers’ Union, said: “Knowing the heights and locations of power lines is essential, as is communicating this information to all staff and visitors to farms.” Farmers using GPS ‘auto-steer’ tractors are becoming increasingly responsible for power outages amid a rise in collisions with pylons and overhead lines.Satellite navigation systems that help guide tractors and combine harvesters around fields are failing to spot overhead power cables and pylons, leading to crashes.In the latest accident, a Nottinghamshire farmer escaped serious injury after his tractor crashed into a pylon while using auto-steer. The incident left 1,300 homes without power.The new GPS and auto-steer systems allow farmers to ‘map’ every corner of the field so they don’t have to steer when they plough and harvest crops.Farmers like it because it cuts costs by minimising wasted fuel, seed, dung and other fertiliser.The increasing size of tractors and combine harvesters is another factor in making crashes more common with overhead lines, health and safety experts told The Telegraph. A grain tipping trailer can exceed a power line’s height of 5.2m, with some larger models reaching 7m in height.Eddie Cochrane, Safety Advisor at suppliers Western Power Distribution, said: “All of these accidents are avoidable. By far, the largest number of accidents involving farm workers is caused by machines coming into contact with overhead lines, often leading to injury and even death. Want the best of The Telegraph direct to your email and WhatsApp? Sign up to our free twice-daily  Front Page newsletter and new  audio briefings.

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