Be Safe Around Electricity When Moving Farm Equipment

Posted on Aug 29 2023 in Safety
Farm scene

With the arrival of harvest time, Indiana’s farmers are shifting into high gear as they move into their fields to bring in crops. All that increased activity puts farmers and farm workers at greater risk, warned Jon Elkins, vice president of safety, training and compliance at Indiana Electric Cooperatives.

“Combines and grain augers are large pieces of equipment,” Elkins said. “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.”

Here are some tips Indiana Electric Cooperatives recommends for farmers to protect themselves and their workers:

  • Always look up and around before moving or raising equipment. Keep in mind that power lines sag between poles, especially on hot days. A good rule of thumb is to stay at least 10 feet from all power lines and power poles.
  • Never try to raise power lines to allow passage of tall equipment. Even nonmetallic 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 metal tractor or combine.
  • When considering the height of equipment, don’t forget about the radio antennas and GPS receivers that may reach another couple of feet above the roof.
  • Take the time to fully lower grain augers and other portable equipment before moving them.
  • Have a spotter on hand to ensure your safety when moving equipment near power lines.
  • If you’re not completely sure that 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 there is a fire and you have to escape, jump clear of the equipment. Keep both feet together and shuffle or hop at least 30 feet away.

“Working the land has enough hazards in the work itself,” Elkins said. “With care and planning, moving to and from the fields shouldn’t be one of them.”

SOURCES: Iowa Lakes Electric Co-op, Ozark Border Electric Cooperative,