Northern Ireland Electricity (NIE) has released figures from its study on third-party damage to the electricity network. The figures reveal that in the past decade ten people have died after making contact with power lines.
And, in just the last year, 19 electricity-related injuries caused by contact with the electricity network have been reported.
Roy Coulter, NIE Director of Health and Safety, says of these injuries, "In the last year there have been 19 potentially fatal injuries following contact with the electricity network, all of them avoidable."
Many of these injuries were caused by direct contact with overhead power lines. Others were caused by contact with underground cables during digging and excavation work.
Whilst the figures highlight various issues relating to the damage caused to the electricity network due to interference, the figures relating to injuries resulting from such interference are just as, if not more, important. The NIE hopes that these figures serve as a warning to workers to take the utmost care when working with or near electricity and never to take any risks.
Mr Coulter referred to the practical steps that all workers and their employers should be adopting every time they work with or near electricity. "There are simple measures everyone working in the vicinity of electricity equipment can do", he said. All employers should discuss these measures with their employees, as they have a duty of care towards them to ensure their safety.
The NIE issues safety guidelines to construction workers and other workers who come into contact with electricity equipment. Mr Coulter says of these: "All contractors should carry out their work in accordance with HSG 47 and these principles are clearly laid out in our booklet - Safety Advice for Contractors."
The NIE hopes to highlight the dangers of working with and near electricity equipment. The study is a welcome addition to other studies highlighting the dangers faced by workers in carrying out their duties, which the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) strives to highlight to workers across the UK.
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