NOVEMBER 2018 Farm Safety Focus seems a little lower than usual, or is simply in your way contact ESB immediately and request that we come out. Or if you hit a pole accidently call us straight away. By working with farmers we can come up with a solution that removes any unnecessary safety hazards; it is too late once something bad happens and all too often we underestimate the power of electricity. It can wreak havoc in terms of the injury it can cause and can even result in loss of life.” “One of the activities that go on at this time of year on farms is hedge cutting. Farmers are out with machines and invariably we find poles near ditches which can lead to problems by the simple fact that the pole is camouflaged by trees. Carefully clearing away the growth around the pole will help to make this a safer environment. We are also trained to look straight ahead when working, but we need to look up to see wires.” Making wires more visible and being aware of these dangers is important, he notes. Education Arthur believes that education lies at the heart of changing attitudes to safety and this begins in schools and colleges: “I am passionate about the whole area of education – we are not in a position of training people, but it is about educating people so that they make the right decision. That’s the tone of our advertising: asking people the question ‘are you sure it is safe?’. We want people to stand back momentarily and decide if this is a safe thing to do. If you get that instinctive feeling that something is becoming unsafe then take a moment and change your approach.” Arthur is also working with primary, secondary and third level institutes. “At third level we give interactive lectures using video and images to show things that have gone wrong; showing how to stay safe around electricity and how electricity works if it comes in contact with the body. In secondary schools we launched a national safety competition two years ago where we invite people to consider farm safety in its totality, not just regarding electricity, and ask them to come up with some innovative idea that addresses the risk.” And at primary level the ESB works in participation with the Health and Safety Authority in building awareness around general safety issues, which cover the likes of electricity, water and road safety. “It is about building awareness – my vision is that no student goes through primary school without an education in safety.” “A farmer pulled down a line but he had the sense to stay in the tractor and ring ESB Networks so that we were able to come out and safely deal with the situation. When we see a message like that getting through to people it is very reinforcing.” Collaborative effort Working with other organisations, the Department and the HSA, Arthur says, has real benefits: “People involved in this area are all very well intentioned, highly motivated and energetic. I have nothing but the highest of praise for the commitment and resources that these relevant companies, organizations, the Department and the HSA have put in place. All bodies are integrating very well in terms of recognising the importance of farm safety and making it a mandatory requirement. And the Farm Safety Partnership is a very good thing in terms of consistency of communication. But it is always good to review and we are delighted to be a part of this partnership and making our efforts available to them. It is in ESB’s interest to make sure everyone is safe. But there is no silver bullet: it is a message that needs to be delivered constantly. We need to continue what we are doing and work with partners in the Department and across the sector to bring the best possible messaging to people.” This message, Arthur states however, needs to be about the people rather than the statistics: “While we have lots of near misses we haven’t had the level of casualty in relation to electricity as regard other causes. We monitor all incidents that happen – whoever or whatever causes them, everything is tracked and recorded and the solutions are documented. The trend now is to educate people in terms of their own behaviours. Situational awareness and standing back to assess can be the difference between something happening and not happening. Ultimately it is about attitudes and behaviours. And people are interested in the story, the narrative of events rather than statistics. People want to know about the human experience. They remember these stories better. So examining trends is important but it is not the solution when it comes to engaging people’s hearts and minds.” 43