Reap a safe harvest
September is here and with it comes harvest time for many farmers. It 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 accidents involving power lines and electrical equipment.
Farm workers should take these steps to ensure a safer harvest season:
• Use care when raising augers or the bed of grain trucks around power lines.
• Use a spotter when operating large machinery near power lines. Do not let the spotter touch the machinery while it is being moved anywhere near power lines.
• As with any outdoor work, be careful not to raise any equipment such as ladders, poles or rods into power lines. Remember, non-metallic materials such as lumber, tree limbs, ropes and hay will conduct electricity depending on dampness, dust and dirt contamination.
• 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.
If the power line is energized and you step outside, touching the vehicle and ground, your body becomes the path and electrocution is the result. Even if a power line has landed on the ground, the potential for the area nearby to be energized still exists. Stay inside the vehicle unless there’s fire or imminent risk of fire. If this is the case, 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 trained in proper procedures to avoid injury.