Be safe around electricity when moving farm equipment

Posted on Aug 19 2020 in Safety
Farm harvest photo

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. The increased activity puts farmers and farm workers at greater risk, warns John Gasstrom, CEO of Indiana Electric Cooperatives. 

“Combines and grain augers are large pieces of equipment,” says Gasstrom. “People assume 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 power lines sag between poles, especially on hot days. A good rule of thumb is to stay at least 30 feet from all power lines and power poles.
  • 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 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.
  • Remember new equipment could be bigger and taller than what it replaced. Don’t assume the new equipment will fit in the same space.
  • When moving equipment near power lines, have a spotter on hand to ensure your safety.
  • If you’re not completely sure 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 that requires you 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,” says Gasstrom. “With care and planning, moving to and from the fields shouldn’t be one of them.”