Harvest time in Indiana can be an exciting and exhausting time, the culmination of a season of hard work. However, the rush to harvest can also yield tragic outcomes. Each year, dozens of farm workers are killed and hundreds are injured in electrical accidents on the farm.
Review with all workers the farm activities that take place around power lines. Inspect the height of farm equipment to determine clearance. Keep equipment at least 10 feet away from power lines — above, below and to the side — a 360-degree rule.
Farm workers should take these steps to ensure a safer harvest season:
- Use care when raising augers or grain truck beds around power lines.
- Use a spotter when operating large machinery near power lines.
- Be careful not to raise any equipment such as ladders, poles or rods into power lines.
- Never attempt to raise or move a power line to clear a path!
- Don’t use metal poles to break up bridged grain inside bins. Know where and how to shut off the power in an emergency.
- Use qualified electricians for work on drying equipment and other farm electrical systems.
Operators of farm equipment or vehicles must also know what to do if the vehicle comes in contact with a power line: Stay on the equipment, warn others to stay away and call 911. Do not get off the equipment until the utility crew says it is safe to do so.
In case of a fire, jump off the equipment with your feet together, without touching the ground and vehicle at the same time. Then, still keeping your feet together, hop to safety as you leave the area.
Once you get away from the equipment, never attempt to get back on or even touch the equipment. Some electrocutions have occurred after the operator dismounts and, realizing nothing has happened, tries to get back on the equipment.
It is very important that all farm workers and seasonal employees are informed of electrical hazards and are trained in proper procedures to avoid injury.