Electrical safety tips for farmers

Indiana’s electric cooperatives work to keep planting season safe

With many of Indiana’s 94,000 farmers beginning to plant their crops, Indiana Electric Cooperatives offers electrical safety tips on the farm. Farming is one of the top 10 most dangerous jobs in the United States with 62 farmers electrocuted every year.

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

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 10-foot distance from power lines in all directions. Some clearances may have changed since the last time you entered the field.
  • Keep a safe distance from power poles and guy wires when working the land or planting crops. Contact 911 immediately if your equipment encounters a guy wire or power pole. Never try fixing it yourself.
  • If your farm equipment becomes entangled with power lines, call 911 immediately. Keep others away and remain calm. DO NOT try to exit the equipment. 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 you are planning a control burn, mow and remove vegetation at least 15 feet around any pole prior to burning. Should a burn get out of control and endanger poles or other equipment, call 911 immediately.
  • Do not allow the fire to cross under power lines in large areas. Heavy smoke can conduct electricity from the line to the ground, similar to lightning strikes. Such discharges have killed firefighters. Use extreme care when spraying water below power lines. A water stream into a power line can also act as a conductor.
  • 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.