ESB Networks Launch Farm Safety Competition

An opportunity for Agricultural students at each of six Irish agricultural colleges -Ballyhaise, (Co. Cavan) Gurteen (Co. Tipperary), Clonakilty (Co. Cork), Kildalton (Co. Kilkenny), Mountbellew (Co. Galway), Pallaskenry (Co. Limerick) to win an all-expenses paid trip with a guide to the popular Livestock Event at the NEC in Birmingham on July 6th.

The prizes for each college includes airline tickets, hotel accommodation, lunch and dinner plus admission to the show. In addition each student winner will each receive a certificate, free admission to the National Ploughing Championship in September and have their photo taken with the Minister for Agriculture on the ESB Networks stand in Screggan, Tullamore.

Full house of attentive students at Ballyhaise Ag College listen to a talk by Arthur Byrne, Public Safety Manager with ESB Networks.

Full house of attentive students at Ballyhaise Ag College listen to a talk by Arthur Byrne, Public Safety Manager with ESB Networks.

All the participating students have to do is write an article (1,000 to 1,500 words typed) on electrical safety as it relates to current practice on farms they are familiar with (home, neighbours and relatives).

In their article they can make suggestions on how farm safety could be improved.

Or if they prefer and are good at design they can produce a farm safely poster to promote best practice on farm. The winning poster might be used subsequently by ESB Networks for this purpose.

Speaking to Ag students at the Teagasc college in Ballyhaise, Arthur Byrne, Public Safety Manager for ESB Networks highlighted the importance of staying vigilant when dealing with electricity and “getting into the habit of Safety First, Always”.

Serious Accident Situations:
According to Arthur since the year 1995, 69 people have died after coming into contact with electricity. Some of these tragic deaths involved the equipment and wiring on the premises or farms.

Others occurred when machinery came into contact with overhead electricity wires on the land. In addition there have been many serious injuries (external and internal burns, pain, shock etc.) requiring hospitalisation and thousands of near misses.

Eight of those who lost their lives were farmers and some details were as follows:

  • 2013: power washing on a farm,
  • 2004: silage harvester contacted an overhead 10,000 volt line, two people electrocuted moving a high pole under an overhead line,
  • 2000: Milking parlour became live,
  • 2000: Death after contact with a fallen 10,000 volt wire.

Other electrical accidents on farms have included:

  • Welding, electric fence connected directly to an ESB line, milking machine became live; cutting timber too near to a 10,000 volt line, Damage to transformer poles causing lines to fall to ground.

There have been many hundreds of incidents where livestock have perished because of electricity, and where farmers had lucky escapes when trying to rescue stricken animals.

  • In north Kerry last year a farmer lost 15 calves in a hay shed fire after an electrical fault. During April 2014 six in-calf pedigree heifers were electrocuted inside a shed, many cows receiving shocks in milking parlours.

Arthur asked all present to carefully read the ESB Networks “Farm Safely with Electricity booklet which was launched by Minister Coveney at the National Ploughing Championship last year.

In summary, he said “that working near overhead power lines and having an unsafe or inadequately protected electrical installation are the main causes of electrical accidents on farms.

On a positive note he went on to say “Looking back over the decades , starting in the 30’s, I can tell you that the average number of deaths from electrocution is five, in recent years that has come down very significantly to about two pa – but it needs to be zero”


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