Working with big equipment is dangerous enough without adding in the dangerous presented by electricity. All the rain that Southern Indiana has received this summer has created even more dangers. Standing water, muddy machinery, and moist clothes all make for excellent electric conductors, meaning farmers need to take precautions to ensure that they remain safe.
Here are some safe practices to consider:
- Keep yourself and equipment at least 10 feet away from power lines in all directions. Use a spotter when moving tall equipment and loads to warn you if you’re getting too close to power lines. When raising equipment, like the bed of a grain truck or augers, make sure that the vehicles maintain a safe distance as they get higher (Source).
- Never attempt to raise or move a power line to clear a path. If power lines near your property have sagged over time, call Orange County REMC to repair them.
- If you are on equipment that contacts a power line, do not exit the equipment. According to the Energy Education Council, when you step off the equipment, you become electricity’s path to the ground and can receive a potentially fatal shock. Contact Orange County REMC and wait until workers have de-energized the line and confirmed that it is safe to exit the vehicle. If you must exit the vehicle because it is on fire, jump as far as you can away from the vehicle, keeping both of your feet together. Keeping your feet together prevents electric current from flowing through your body, which can be deadly.
- Enact safe working practices when using water around electric lines. Turn off power before working on an irrigation system or other electrical equipment. Be aware of overhead power lines when working with irrigation pipes, when standing on systems and when near spraying water on power lines. Avoid wearing loose clothing and tie back long hair when near rotating equipment (Southeastern Indiana REMC)
- Call before you dig! There can be underground electric lines, gas lines, telecommunication lines, water lines, or other underground lines just below the surface which could be dangerous if touched or broken. Source In Indiana, the toll-free number is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Call 811, or visit 811now.com, to schedule for utility crews to come to your property and mark the locations of underground utility lines at no charge to you.
- Perform routine maintenance and inspections of wiring, checking to see if the wiring has deteriorated or is overloaded. Check for loose connections, clear away cobwebs and accumulated dust, place cover plates over switches, and look for any moisture that could be a hazard. Print out this chart from the Wisconsin Farm Electric Council to assess the present level of electrical safety on your farm.
Contact a certified electrician to enact any changes that need to be made to your electrical systems and set-up to make your farm safer.
Check out these sources for more guidelines to follow:
- “Farming Safely & Efficiently with Electricity”
- Electrical Safety on the Farm
- Irrigation Safety – Water and Electricity Working Together
- IN.gov, Call Before You Dig