Know the Dangers as Harvest Begins

As farmers begin this season's harvest, it's important to remember some important safety steps. The rush to harvest can reap grim results if steps to ensure safety are bypassed. Each year, across the U.S., hundreds of farm workers are injured and many are killed when their farming equipment makes contact with power lines. Power lines must be thoughtfully avoided - and taking that extra step - can ensure you continue to have a safe and productive harvest.

oday's farming operations often involve large and complex machinery. Large combines, raised dump beds, oversized wagons, grain augers, planters, spraying equipment and metal irrigation pipes are all excellent conductors of electricity. Equipment contacting overhead power lines is the leading cause of farm electrocution accidents in the Midwest. Everyone working on a farm should be aware of power lines and keep farm equipment away from the lines. It's also important to thoroughly evaluate new or used equipment that is being used for the first time on your property. Take special note of larger, modern equipment such as tractors and combines with higher antennas that may create a clearance threat.

Moving portable grain augers continues to pose one of the greatest threats to workers. Those who are moving the equipment on the ground can provide a direct path for electricity if there is contact with overhead wires. Grain augers should always be lowered before moving them. Things like wind, uneven ground, shifting weight or other conditions can create an unexpected result. When moving large equipment use a spotter or someone to help make certain that contact is not made with a line. Areas near grain bins pose a dangerous threat if equipment is too large or is used improperly. If you’re installing new grain bins, contact a licensed electrician or a Lyon Rural Electric Cooperative representative to help place electrical service lines.

If the equipment you are in comes into contact with power lines make sure you:

  • Stay in the cab and call for help
  • If there is imminent risk of fire, jump clear of the vehicle and land with both feet on the ground at the same time - do not allow any part of your body to touch the equipment and ground at the same time.

If you question the height of power lines nearing your working areas, don't attempt to measure the line heights yourself. Contact Lyon Rural Electric Cooperative to help determine line height in each area of the farm.

The best way to handle a farm-related accident is prevention. Respect electricity and avoid contact with overhead lines. Look up, look down and be safe this harvest season!

Other Risks:

Overhead power lines aren't the only risk during this season. Pole guy wires are grounded and a supporting part of the pole or structure. If one is broken it can cause an electric current disruption and electric hazard or even cause the pole to break. If you hit a guy wire and break it, call Lyon Rural Electric Cooperative immediately. Do not fix it yourself.