Best Practices for Avoiding Electrical Risks

Nina ConnerAgribusiness

By Gina Ekstam for AssuredPartners

Electrical risks are one of the most overlooked hazards in agriculture. According to the National Ag Safety Database (NASD), thousands of workers are shocked and burned due to accidental contact with electricity each year, and an estimated $1.2 billion in property damage occurs because of faulty electrical usage.

Accidents happen for a variety of reasons. One of the biggest dangers is overhead power lines. Workers using portable grain augers, large wagons, combines, fold-up cultivators, and other tall equipment should know where power lines are located as well as the clearance needed for equipment that must travel underneath the lines. Maintaining a minimum 10-foot clearance between the power line and the top of equipment traveling under it is a good rule of thumb. It’s also important to keep in mind that some equipment during transport may be taller when in use.

Electrical current from high voltage lines can flow through a vehicle and energize the ground up to 100 feet away. If a vehicle comes in contact with a power line, workers should stay in the vehicle unless there is a fire, in which case they should jump as far away as possible. Immediately contact the utility company to have the power shut off. Further, the NASD cautions:

  • No part of the worker’s body should touch the equipment and the ground at the same time.
  • Both feet should always remain in contact with the ground. Shuffle slowly away from the equipment until at least 100 feet away.
  • Once away from the vehicle, please don’t touch it or try and get back on because many electrocutions occur when someone dismounts, then gets back on the vehicle, assuming there is no problem.

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