With the arrival of harvest time, Indiana’s farmers are shifting into high gear as they move into their fields to bring in their crops. All that increased activity puts farmers and farm workers at greater risk, warns Jon Elkins, vice president of safety, training and compliance at Indiana Electric Cooperatives.
“Combines and grain augers are large pieces of equipment,” says Elkins. “People assume that everything will fit under the power lines, but that isn’t always the case. The biggest cause of electrocutions on farms is equipment accidentally touching power lines.”
To protect themselves, farmers and their workers should follow these tips from Indiana Electric Cooperatives:
- Always look up and around before moving or raising equipment. A good rule of thumb is to stay at least 30 feet from all power lines and power poles.
- Check clearances each time you enter or exit a field. It’s possible changes were made since the last time you accessed the field and the clearances could have changed.
- Never try to raise power lines to allow passage of tall equipment. Even non-metallic objects such as wood poles or branches can conduct electricity.
- Watch out for power poles, too. If you strike one, it may break, dropping a live line on your equipment.
- When considering the height of equipment, don’t forget about the radio antennas and GPS receivers that may reach another couple feet above the roof.
- Take the time to fully lower grain augers and other portable equipment before moving them.
- When moving equipment near power lines, have a spotter on hand to ensure your safety.
- If you’re not completely sure if equipment will fit under a power line, find an alternate way to move it.
- If you’re in equipment that touches power lines, stay in the cab and call for help. Tell others to stay away. In the rare case of a fire and you have to escape, jump clear of the equipment. Keep both feet together and shuffle at least 30 feet away.
“Working the land has enough hazards in the work itself,” says Elkins. “With care and planning, moving to and from the fields shouldn’t be one of them.”