New research has revealed truck drivers are unsure how to avoid fatal injuries when working near overhead power lines.
The research from Energy Networks Association (ENA) was released alongside a newly launched film highlighting the dangers of overhead power lines and a call for workers to familiarise themselves with safety advice and call 105 if an incident occurs.
On average, one person dies or is injured each month as a result of contact with overhead power lines. Data from the Health & Safety Executive showed one in four of these cases (26 per cent) will involve a truck driver – putting road haulage workers at extreme risk of fatal injury in the workplace.
Despite this threat to life, ENA found over 50 per cent of truck drivers do not understand the proper safety requirements for working near overhead power lines. Only five per cent knew to call 105 to contact the network operators for incidents involving overhead power lines.
In fact, more people (7.6 per cent) think you should call 911 – the American emergency services – if you’ve been involved in a collision.
In addition, a third of truck drivers (36 per cent) did not know electricity can jump small gaps which can cause a potentially fatal electric shock.
Overhead power lines have the capacity to carry voltages anywhere between 230V (domestic voltage) up to 400,000V. Even domestic voltage can be fatal, and high-voltage electricity can jump gaps – meaning you don’t have to be in direct physical contact with a conductor to experience a fatal electric shock.
Furthermore, almost a third of truck drivers surveyed (35 per cent) said the best thing to do when involved in a collision with an overhead power line is to exit the vehicle and call for help, when exiting the vehicle can actually put you at immediate risk of fatal injury.
When a vehicle or piece of machinery touches an overhead power line, it acts as a conductor passing the high-voltage electricity through it. If a driver were to then exit the vehicle, keeping contact with it while their feet also touched the ground, this voltage would pass through the body and cause serious injury – and in most cases, death.
To help prevent the number of fatalities among truck drivers, the ENA has launched a new Look Out Look Up! film targeting those working within the industry. The film explores the journey of two road haulage workers carrying out a job near overhead power lines that results in a fatal accident.
As well as showcasing the dangers of working near overhead power lines, the film also reveals the devastating affects these accidents can have on friends and family.