Every year, an average of 62 good men and women working on farms are electrocuted when farm machines touch overhead power lines. It’s easy for farmers and workers to focus on the ground during harvest, but keeping safety in mind and looking up are just as important – especially when operating farm machinery
near power lines. Share these farm-safety tips with your family and workers to help ensure a safe harvest season.
Measure clearances. Planning to transport equipment? Make sure you have ample clearance – at least 10 feet – between power lines and your combines, grain augers, pickers, bailers and front-end loaders. Keep in mind that uneven ground and shifting soil conditions could put you in harm’s way.
Watch the road. Look all around as you move farm equipment. Overhead power lines crossing roads on the farm should be at least 18½ feet from the ground to make sure combines, tillage and harvesting equipment, and tractors don’t touch the lines and put your life in danger. If a line seems low, contact your local electric cooperative for assistance.
In the meantime, plan your route. Plan ahead to harvest safely between fields, to bins and elevators, and on public roads to avoid lowhanging power lines. If someone else transports large equipment for you, always provide a safe route and explain why it must be taken.
Steer clear of power lines. Portable grain augers, oversized wagons, combines and other tall or cumbersome equipment can come in contact with overhead power lines, creating an electrocution threat to the operator and people on the ground nearby. Always lower a portable grain auger or elevator before you move it, even if only a few feet. As a general rule of thumb, keep all objects at least 10 feet away from overhead lines.
Be extra careful when working around trees and brush; they often make it difficult to see power lines.
Think – then act. If equipment gets hung up on a power line, don’t get off the machine unless there’s a fire or another immediate danger. If you touch the
ground and the equipment at the same time, you can become a deadly channel for electricity.
If you must get off the equipment, jump clear of the vehicle and, keeping your feet close together, hop away. Then call your electric co-op to report the problem. Don’t touch any machine connected to a power line, and keep others away until your electric co-op disconnects the line.