It’s hard to believe, but by the time this Nodak Neighbor hits your mailbox some of our members will already be preparing for a busy harvest season. It can be an exciting and exhausting time winding up a season of hard work; however, the rush to harvest can also yield tragic outcomes if we are not vigilant. Each year, dozens of farm workers are killed and hundreds are injured in accidents involving power lines and electrical equipment across the United States.
Things people see every day can fade from view and in the busyness of harvest time, it’s easy for our farmers to forget about overhead power lines. Failure to notice them can be a deadly oversight. A simple reminder to keep all equipment at least 10 feet from all power lines could be all it takes to avoid a potentially disastrous accident. We encourage our farmers to keep safe and review all activities that take place around power lines with their employees this harvest season.
Some safety tips to help ensure a safer harvest season that are recommended by the Energy Education Council include:
- Use extreme caution when raising the bed of a truck.
- Use a spotter when operating large machinery near power lines and do not let the spotter touch the machinery while it is being moved anywhere near power lines.
- As with any outdoor work, be careful not to raise any equipment such as ladders, poles, or rods into power lines. Remember, nonmetallic materials such as lumber, tree limbs, ropes, etc., can conduct electricity depending on dampness, dust and dirt contamination.
- Never attempt to raise or move a power line to clear a path!
- Use qualified electricians for all your electrical work.
Even when exercising caution, sometimes equipment comes into contact with power lines, so it is critical that equipment operators learn what to do. Stay on the equipment, warn others and call 911. Do not get off the equipment until utility crews say it is safe to do so. If the power line remains energized and you step outside, touching the vehicle and the ground at the same time, your body becomes the path and electrocution will result. Even if the power line has landed on the ground, the potential for the area nearby to be energized still exists. It is safest to stay in the vehicle unless there is fire or imminent risk of fire.
In this case, jump off the equipment with your feet together, without touching the ground and the vehicle at the same time. Then, still keeping your feet together, hop to safety as you leave the area. Once you get away from the equipment, never attempt to go back or even touch the equipment. Some electrocutions have occurred after the equipment operator dismounts the vehicle and realizing nothing has happened tries to get back on the equipment.
It is very important that all farm workers and seasonal employees are informed of electrical hazards and trained in proper procedures to avoid injury. That way we can all have a safer harvest season and continue to enjoy the benefits of safe, convenient, and affordable electricity. Have a safe harvest.