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Know How to Stay Safe When Using Farm Irrigation Equipment | Print |  Email

Know How to Stay Safe When Using Farm Irrigation Equipment

Irrigation electrical hazards are a growing problem in many regions of the country. In the summer heat and dry season, farm irrigation can be vital for profitability. However, it is equally vital that operators know and follow proper safety precautions to avoid potentially deadly electrical accidents
Farm irrigation when operating and handling the watering systems.

Farm operators should keep in mind that metal and water are conductors of electricity while working around irrigation equipment. Aluminum irrigation pipes, while lightweight and easier to handle, are an excellent conductor of electricity. It is best to avoid moving irrigation pipe and equipment on windy days, as a sudden gust could lift pipes into overhead power lines. This power line contact could prove fatal to a person holding the pipe.

“Remember, water and electricity is a dangerous mix,” said Mike Bird, electrical safety expert and member of the Safe Electricity Advisory Board. “Electricity follows the shortest path to the ground and can flow through any conductive material, such as water or metal. Do not allow irrigation water nozzles to spray on power lines. A water stream hitting a power line could energize the entire system, creating a shock hazard to anyone nearby or in contact with the equipment.”

Take some time to survey your surroundings before moving equipment. Look up and around you; note any power lines that could be close enough to come into contact with equipment – and stay away.

“Always know the location of nearby electrical lines when working with irrigation equipment,” said Bird. “Any contact between the irrigation equipment and nearby electrical lines could be fatal or cause serious injury.”

To ensure safe operation of irrigation equipment, Safe Electricity offers the following tips:

  • Make sure that irrigation system wiring is properly grounded. Before the start of each irrigation season, have a qualified electrician check the pump and wiring.
  • Store unused irrigation pipes far away from power lines or electrical equipmnt.
  • Position irrigation pipes at least 15 feet away from power lines.
  • Position the water jet streams so that there is no chance of them spraying onto power lines – if this happens, the entire system could become energized, creating a danger for anyone nearby.
  • Stay away from the piping during any lightning activity. Install lightning arresters to protect your equipment.
  • If fuses continually blow or circuit breakers repeatedly trip, have a professional check the wiring. This could indicate a potential electrical hazard.
  • Always shut off and lock the master electrical control switch before servicing the machine.
  • Avoid moving irrigation equipment on windy days when pipes could be blown into nearby power lines. Keep pipes horizontal to the ground rather than vertical to minimize the risk of contact with power lines.

“If an irrigation pipe comes in contact with a power line, never try to remove it yourself,” said Bird. “Stay away from the pipe, and call your local electric utility for help.”

 

 


 

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