Look Out for Power Lines...
Farm operators, family members, and employees need to beware of overhead power lines, keep farm equipment safely away, and know what to do if accidental contact is made with power lines.
"Looking up and around when working in the fields this harvest season is important," explained NPPD Transmission and Distribution Manager Joel Dagerman. "Taking a few minutes to look for overhead electric lines may be life-saving time well spent. Unfortunately we saw an increase of situations involving farm equipment this past spring becoming entangled in power lines."
Every year, an average of 62 farm workers are electrocuted in the United States and many more are injured, according to Labor Department statistics.
"Failure to notice overhead power lines can be a deadly oversight, especially those in end row areas that can be easily overlooked," Dagerman said.
End rows are an area where farm equipment can accidentally become entangled in the power lines. Remaining inside the equipment until help arrives is critical to everyone's safety. Dagerman said that those involved in harvesting work should understand any contact with power lines carries the potential for a serious or fatal accident. Electricity can arc to the equipment if it comes close to the line.
"It's always best to call for help, and wait until the local electric utility arrives to make sure the line is de-energized. If the power line is energized and you step outside, your body becomes the path and electrocution could happen," he said. "Even if a power line is on the ground, there is still the potential for the area nearby to be energized unless there's fire or imminent risk of fire."
If you must exit, the proper action is to jump — not step — with both feet hitting the ground at the same time. Jump clear, without touching the vehicle and ground at the same time, and continue to shuffle to safety, keeping both feet together as you leave the area.
"Like the ripples in a pond or lake, the voltage diminishes the farther out it is from the source," Dagerman pointed out. "Be sure that at no time you or anyone touches the equipment and the ground at the same time. Never should the operator simply step out of the vehicle. The person must jump clear."