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Plan Ahead for a Safe Planting Season

Farming is perennially near the top of the list of the most dangerous jobs in the United States according to Bureau of Labor Statistics. One hazard faced by farm workers, while they are also feeling the pressure to get the crops in the ground, is electricity and the equipment that carries it to homes and businesses. However, with proper planning and education, risks of and accidents involving electricity can be greatly reduced. 

        One critical part of safety around electricity is awareness. With the use of large equipment, farmers can easily find themselves in dangerous proximity to overhead lines. Being aware of the location of those wires can help reduce accidents.

Safe Electricity urges farmers and farm workers to remember:

  • Keep a 10-foot minimum distance around power lines. That means 10 feet above, below, and to the side of power lines.
  • Use a spotter when moving machinery around the farm. It can be difficult to judge how close a piece of machinery is from the driver’s seat.
  • Use caution when handling long items such as irrigation pipe, ladders, and rods. Coming too close to a power line can cause electricity to arc, or “jump,” to conducting material or objects.
  • Be aware of increased height when loading and transporting tractors on trailer beds. Many tractors are now equipped with radios and communications systems that have very tall antennas extending from the cab that could make contact with power lines.
  • Avoid raising the arms of planters, cultivators, or truck beds near power lines.
  • Never attempt to raise or move a power line to clear a path.
  • Remember, even non-metallic materials such as lumber, tree limbs, tires, ropes, and hay will conduct electricity depending on dampness, dust, and dirt contamination.
  • If you hit a guy wire and break it, call the utility to fix it. Do not do it yourself. Pole guy wires, used to stabilize utility poles, are grounded. However, when one of the guy wires is broken it can cause an electric current disruption. This can make those neutral wires anything but harmless.

Jim Flach’s sprayer made contact with overhead power lines and it cost him his life. Take a few minutes to go to, watch Jim’s story, and share it with everyone involved in your farming operation to help keep them safe. 

Get more electrical safety information at

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