Sow Seeds of Caution to Reap Safe Harvest
Harvest season is one of the busiest times of year for farmers – and among the most dangerous. Before taking to the fields, Safe Electricity urges farm workers to be aware of potential electrical hazards and take safe steps to avoid tragedy. Take note of the following tips to keep your harvest season productive and safe.
- Install ground fault circuit interrupters (GFCIs) to help prevent electric shock in areas that are exposed to weather and may potentially become wet. GFCIs should also be on outlets where electric tools are used.
- Examine all wiring and machinery regularly. Ensure that everything is grounded and working properly.
- Always check the weather forecast and never operate machinery when there is a risk for lightning. Make sure you’re accounting for adverse weather conditions, and dedicating extra space for safety.
- Before working in the field, check the height of farm machinery and note of the location of overhead power lines. Plan your route to avoid them. Keep equipment far away from lines, at least 10 feet in all directions – below, above and to the sides. Use caution with ladders, poles and other extended machinery.
During harvest season last year, a father and son were killed when working on their family farm in Jordan, Minnesota. According to officials, the men were lifting a farm auger when strong wind resulted in contact made with an overhead power line.
If contact is made between farming equipment and overhead lines, it’s almost always best to stay in the cab. Warn others to stay away and call 9-1-1 to alert the utility and emergency services. Do not get off the equipment unless there is a fire or imminent risk of fire.
In that rare case, the proper action would be to jump – not step – free and clear from the equipment landing with feet together. Do not touch the equipment and ground at the same time. Hop as far away as possible, as electricity radiates outward.
For additional information on how to stay safe this harvest season, with resources available in both English and Spanish, visit www.SafeElectricity.org.