Have a Successful Planting Season Rooted in Safety
As farmers return to their fields for spring planting, REC urges them and everyone else to be particularly alert to the dangers of working near overhead power lines. Operating large equipment near these lines is one of the often overlooked, yet potentially deadly, hazards of working on a farm.
Start by making sure everyone knows to maintain a 10-foot minimum clearance from power lines. “Sometimes a power line is closer than it looks,” says Maxie Rozell, manager of safety, security and risk management at REC. “Helpful safety steps include using a spotter and designating preplanned routes that avoid hazard areas.”
- Be aware of increased height when loading and transporting large equipment on trailer beds. Many tractors now have tall antennas extending from the cab that could make contact with power lines.
- Avoid raising the arms of planters or cultivators near power lines, and never attempt to raise or move a power line to clear a path.
- Working too close to a power line is dangerous as electricity will take the shortest path to ground to conducting objects, such as a ladder, pole or truck.
- Non-metallic materials such as lumber, tires, ropes and hay will conduct electricity depending on dampness, dust and dirt contamination.
“If your equipment does come into contact with power lines, stay in the cab and call your local emergency services and REC for help,” explains Rozell. “If the power line is energized and you step outside, your body becomes the path to the ground. Even if a line has landed on the ground, there is still potential for the area to be energized. Warn others who may be nearby to stay away and wait until help arrives.”
If exiting the cab is absolutely necessary as a last resort because of fire, the proper action is to jump - not step - with both feet together, hitting the ground at the same time. Do not allow any part of your body to touch the equipment and the ground at the same time. Hop to safety, keeping both feet together as you leave the area.