Spring into safety on the farm

Spring has sprung in the Hoosier state. It’s planting season for many of the state’s roughly 94,000 farmers. While you prepare to plant the crops that keep the world fed, Indiana Electric Cooperatives reminds you to keep safety in mind — especially when working around electricity.

According to the U.S. Department of Labor Occupational Safety and Health Administration, 62 farm workers are electrocuted each year in the U.S. 

“Farm worker deaths and injuries can be prevented by practicing some simple electrical safety measures around farm,” said Jon Elkins, vice president of safety training and compliance at Indiana Electric Cooperatives.

Here are some helpful safety tips for farmers to keep in mind this season:

  • Make sure farm equipment like planter arms and sprayers safely clear overhead power lines. This tall equipment can easily become entangled in power lines and pose an electrocution risk. Keep a minimum of 20-foot distance from power lines in all directions. Consider asking your electric cooperative to move overhead lines around buildings or frequently used pathways. If you’re planning any new construction, consult your cooperative for information on minimum clearances and the location of overhead lines.
  • Keep a safe distance from power poles and guy wires when working the land or planting crops. Contact 911 immediately if your equipment comes into contact with a guy wire or power pole. Do not try to fix it yourself. Leave that to the experts.
  • If your farm equipment comes in contact with power lines, call 911 immediately. Keep others away and remain calm. DO NOT try to exit the equipment or touch someone who has had electrical contact. If you must exit the equipment for life-threatening reasons, jump out and away from the equipment and make sure to land with your feet together and touching. Then, shuffle at least three tractor lengths away with your feet touching. NEVER attempt to get back into or touch equipment that is in contact with a power line.
  • If a standby generator is used on a single-phase system, it must be connected to the farm’s wiring system through a double pole, double-throw switch. The switch disconnects the farm’s electrical system from the electric cooperative’s lines during an outage and prevents backfeed – keeping lineworkers safe from the risk of electrocution.
  • Finally, make sure full-time and seasonal farm workers are educated to stay safe on the farm. Each worker should be aware of the dangers and use proper safety procedures.

Indiana Electric Cooperatives stresses the importance of staying safe around electricity this planting season. It could save a life.

SOURCES: U.S. Department of Labor Occupational Safety and Health Administration, Iowa State University Extension and Outreach, National Agricultural Statistics Service, Virginia Cooperative Extension, U.S. Department of Agriculture

Spring into farm electrical safety: Know what to do if electrical contact occurs

With farmers returning to the field for planting season, Indiana Electric Cooperatives offers reminders about the dangers of power lines.

If you’re inside the machinery when coming in contact with a downed power line:

  • If you can, drive safely away from the downed power line and the source of electricity. Travel at least three tractor lengths, or about 40 feet, before stopping.
  • If you can’t drive or you are injured, it’s best to stay where you are until help arrives.
  • If you must get out of the machinery because of a life-threatening reason, don’t touch the machinery and the ground at the same time with any part of your body or clothing.
    • With the door open, prepare to jump. Stand up, elbows tucked into your stomach and your hands held close to your chest.
    • Jump out and away from the machinery, taking care to land with your feet together and touching. Don’t stumble.
    • Shuffle away with your feet touching each other and the ground. Don’t stop until you’re at least three tractor lengths away from the machinery.
    • Call 911 and ensure that no bystanders come within 40 feet of machinery.
    • Once away from the equipment, never attempt to get back on or even touch the equipment.

If you’re outside the machinery when you notice a farmer comes in contact with a downed power line:

  • Stay at least three tractor lengths away.
  • Tell the person on the machinery to stay where he or she is.
  • Call 911 and ensure no bystander moves within 40 feet of machinery.

Helpful tips to stay safe on the farm this spring

Farms can be the perfect arena for an electrical accident. Here are helpful safety tips:

  • Make sure to keep equipment 20 feet clear of overhead power lines in all directions.
  • Install waterproof and dustproof electrical boxes and outlets on the farm.
  • Keep machinery a safe distance from power poles and guy wires.
  • Educate farm workers on the dangers of electricity and proper safety procedures.