Stay Safe at a Dangerous Job

September 16-22 is National Farm Health and Safety Week

Farming is one of the most dangerous professions in the country, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Machinery and vehicles help on the job but also contribute to many farming accidents. Electricity is essential to the operation of a farm but, like so many other tools, can be dangerous. Safe Electricity encourages farmers to protect themselves from the hazards of electricity and to share electrical safety information with family and workers to help keep them safe this harvest season.

“Harvest is a hectic time on the farm,” says Molly Hall, executive director of the Energy Education Council’s Safe Electricity program. “Farmers can be so busy with work that they do not notice or consider the danger of the overhead power lines that border many fields.”

The family of Jim Flach knows the dangers of electricity on the farm all too well. Jim was working at a neighbor’s farm when he parked the sprayer in the end row. Unknowingly, the sprayer’s arms were in contact with overhead power lines.

Jim stepped out of the vehicle and received a severe electric shock when he became the path to ground for electricity. A few months later, he died as a result of his injuries.

Jim’s family is working with Safe Electricity to prevent accidents like this by sharing Jim’s story. Safe Electricity recommends the following tips to help you stay safe on the farm: 

  • Keep yourself and equipment 10 feet away from overhead power lines in all directions, at all times.
  • Conduct a survey before you begin work. Know where overhead power lines are, and have a plan to stay far from them.
  • Use a spotter. When raising any equipment such as augers, grain trucks, and even ladders, it can be difficult to tell how close you are to overhead power lines. An extra pair of eyes from a spotter can help you stay far away from power lines.
  • Know what to do if you come in contact with an overhead power line. Do not leave the vehicle until utility workers have cut off electricity and confirmed that it is safe to exit the vehicle.
  • Always lower portable augers or elevators to their lowest possible level—under 14 feet—before moving or transporting them. Variables like wind, uneven ground, shifting weight, or other conditions can make it difficult to control raised equipment.
  • Never try to move a power line to clear a path. Power lines start to sag over time, bringing them closer to farmers and other who need to avoid them. Contact your utility to repair sagging power lines.

For more information on electrical safety on the farm, visit SafeElectricity.org.