The rush to harvest can reap grim results, such as electrocution. Equipment contacting overhead power lines is the leading cause of farm electrocution accidents in the Midwest.
Please, take care when moving equipment like portable grain augers, oversized wagons and large combines.
By their long design, portable grain augers pose the most immediate electrocution hazard. If an auger makes accidental contact with overhead wires, the workers on the ground moving the equipment would provide a direct path to ground for the electricity.
Everyone who works on the farm should know the location of power lines and keep farm equipment at least 10 feet away from them. The minimum 10-foot distance is a 360-degree rule below, to the side and above lines.
Here are some additional things to keep in mind:
• Always lower grain augers before moving them, even if it’s only a few feet. Use extreme caution when raising the bed of a grain truck or semi-trailer. It can be difficult to estimate distance and sometimes a power line is closer than it looks. A spotter or someone with a broad view can help.
• If the vehicle or equipment contacts a power line, it’s almost always best to stay in the cab and call for help. If the power line is energized and you step outside, your body becomes the path to ground and electrocution is the result. Warn others who may be nearby to step away and wait until the electric utility arrives to make sure power to the line is cut off.
• If a power line has landed on the ground, the potential for the area nearby to be energized exists. Stay inside the vehicle unless there’s fire or imminent risk of fire. In that case, the proper action is to jump, not step, with both feet hitting the ground at the same time. Do not allow any part of your body to touch the equipment and the ground at the same time. Continue to shuffle or hop to safety, keeping both feet together as you leave the area. Once you get away from the equipment, never attempt to get back on or even touch the equipment.
• Pole guy wires can also cause an electric current disruption if hit or caught with equipment. If you hit a guy wire and break it, call the utility to fix it. Don’t do it yourself!
Another harvest hazard to keep in mind is fire — caused by wiring, faulty bearings and overheated engines on equipment. Always keep radiators and equipment clear of dust and debris. Do several walk arounds of your equipment each day to ensure everything is operating as it should.
Kankakee Valley REMC wants you to have a successful harvest season. Please take the necessary steps to make sure you are looking up and down when moving and operating harvest equipment.