Farmer prosecuted for failing to warn driver of overhead lines

Overhead power lines

A prosecution was taken against a farmer who saw a driver unloading in an unsafe manner near an overhead power line but failed to warn or stop him. The body of the tipper lorry struck the power cables whilst he was unloading. The driver received an electric shock and fell unconscious, sustaining burns and a broken jaw.


The farmer was prosecuted under Section 3(2) of the Health & Safety at Work etc Act 1974 for failing to take steps to bring a visiting drivers attention to the overhead power line or to provide warning signs. He was fined.


The farmer should have:

  • Identified the locations of all overhead power lines in the vicinity of the work.
  • Warned the driver of the presence of overhead power lines.
  • Taken steps to reduce the risk posed by the overhead power lines by:
    1. Telling the driver to unload elsewhere
    2. Asking the driver to use a vehicle that did not pose a risk near the power lines (such as a small dump truck)
    3. Asking the electricity distributor to switch off the power for the duration of the work.

The downloadable guidance Avoiding danger from overhead power lines describes how to work safely near overhead power lines in a range of industries. You can also download a free leaflet called Safe working near overhead power lines in agriculture.

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Updated 2023-02-23