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Safe Electricity Urges Farmers to Look Up and Look Out

For Release: October 1, 2013Harevest Safety

Contact: Kyla Kruse, 217-546-6815, kekruse@illinois.edu


Look Up and Look Out to Keep Your Harvest Season Safe

(SPRINGFIELD, IL)—Harvest season is one of the busiest, and most dangerous, times on the farm. Whether running combines in the fields, filling semis and grain bins, or moving equipment, the Safe Electricity program urges farm workers to look up and pay close attention to the location of overhead power lines and to keep equipment far away from them.

“The harvest rush can lead to farmers working long days with little sleep,” cautions Molly Hall, executive director of the Safe Electricity program. “Make sure to take the time to note the location of power lines.”

One of the biggest hazards for farmers is posed by power lines. Typically, power lines over streets and rural areas have a minimal clearance of 18 feet and 12.5 feet over residential private property.

To stay safe around overhead power lines, Safe Electricity urges farm operators and workers to:

  • Use a spotter when operating large machinery near lines.
  • Use care when raising augers or the bed of grain trucks around power lines.
  • Keep equipment at least 10 feet from lines—at all times, in all directions.
  • Inspect the height of the farm equipment to determine clearance.
  • Always remember to lower extensions when moving loads.
  • Never attempt to move a power line out of the way or raise it for clearance.
  • If a power line is sagging or low, call the local utility immediately.

“Always remember to periodically look up and be aware of your surroundings,” Hall adds. “If you can’t safely pass under a power line, choose a different path.”

If contact is made with a power line, remember, it is almost always safest to stay on the equipment. Do not step down from the cab. Make sure to warn others to stay away, and call the local utility provider immediately. The only reason to exit is if the equipment is on fire. If this is the case, jump off the equipment with your feet together and without touching the ground and vehicle at the same time. Then, still keeping your feet together, “bunny hop” away.

Power lines are not the only danger to agricultural workers.  According to a national census by the Bureau of Labor Statistics for the U.S. Department of Labor, there were 138 agricultural worker deaths in 2011. Reasons for these fatalities include, but are not limited to, roadway collisions, falls/slips/trips, and being struck by objects or equipment.

Additional safety tips from Safe Electricity include:

  • Do not use metal poles when breaking up bridged grain inside and around bins.
  • Always hire qualified electricians for any electrical issues.
  • Do not use equipment with frayed cables.
  • Make sure outdoor outlets are equipped with ground fault circuit interrupters (GFCIs).
  • When operating a portable generator, make sure nothing is plugged into it when turning it on, and never operate a generator in a confined area. Generators can produce toxic and deadly gasses like carbon monoxide.
  • Always use caution when operating heavy machinery.

For more farm and electrical safety information, visit SafeElectricity.org.

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The Energy Education Council is a 501 (c) 3 non-profit organization dedicated to promoting electrical safety and energy efficiency. Established in 1952, the Council is headquartered within the University of Illinois Extension, and serves as a forum for diverse utility and energy organizations to collaborate on the mutually vital issues of efficiency and safety. Learn more at www.EnergyEdCouncil.org.