Electrical Safety Reminder Issued for Harvest Season

Electrical Safety Reminder Issued for Harvest Season

"Equipment can get caught in power lines if operators are not aware of their surroundings," Transmission and Distribution Manager Art Wiese said. "Even coming too close to a power line can cause electricity to arc to your equipment."

As harvest season gets under way, Nebraska Public Power District, the state's largest electrical utility, has issued a reminder to farm workers and operators to "look up and out" for power lines. As farm operators begin using tall equipment back to the fields to work the harvest season, there's a higher risk of hitting power lines, it warns.

"Equipment can get caught in power lines if operators are not aware of their surroundings," Transmission and Distribution Manager Art Wiese said. "Even coming too close to a power line can cause electricity to arc to your equipment."

Contact with power lines can cause serious or fatal accidents. The best way to remain safe is to avoid contact with power lines, but if contact does happen, it's critical to remain inside the farm equipment until assistance arrives. If forced to leave the farm vehicle, workers should jump—not step—with both feet landing on the ground simultaneously. Workers must jump clear of the equipment rather than stepping out, and begin shuffling their feet on the ground to safety. The vehicle and the ground should not be touched at the same time.

"Calling for help is important in avoiding injuries," said Wiese. "If a line is not de-energized by a public power utility crew, stepping out of the vehicle could cause your body to become the path and electrocution could occur. Even if the power line is resting on the ground nearby, that surrounding area could potentially be energized."

NPPD has issued the following safety precaution recommendations for farmers during harvest operations:

  • Each day, review all farm activities and work practices that will take place around power lines and remind all workers to take precautions. Start each morning by planning the day's work during a tailgate safety meeting. Know what jobs will happen near power lines and have a plan to keep the assigned workers safe.
  • Know the location of power lines and, when setting up the farm equipment, be at least 20 feet away from them. Contact your local public power provider if you feel this distance cannot be achieved.
  • Use caution when raising augers or the bed of a grain truck or wagon. It can be difficult to estimate distance, and sometimes a power line is closer than it looks. When moving large equipment or high loads near a power line, always use a spotter to make certain the equipment stays a safe distance from the line.
  • Always adjust portable augers or elevators to their lowest possible level – under 14 feet – before moving or transporting them. Variables such as wind, uneven ground, shifting weight, or other conditions can combine to create an unexpected result.
  • Be aware of increased height when loading and transporting larger modern tractors with higher antennas.
  • Never attempt to raise or move a power line to clear a path. If power lines near your property have sagged over time, call your public power utility to repair them.
  • As in any outdoor work, be careful not to raise any equipment such as ladders, poles, or rods near or into power lines. Non-metallic materials such as lumber, tree limbs, tires, ropes, and hay will conduct electricity depending on dampness and dust and dirt contamination.

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