Checking for power line clearances
Many farmers are busy preparing tillage equipment, sprayers and planters for spring field work. Safe Electricity urges farmers to look for electric hazards around the farm as they prepare for planting.
The most common cause of electric shocks is operating machinery such as large tractors with front loaders, portable grain augers, fold-up cultivators, moving grain elevators and any equipment with an antenna. Handling long items such as irrigation pipe, ladders and rods also pose the risk of contact with power lines. Getting too close to a power line while working is dangerous because electricity can arc, or “jump,” to conducting material or objects.
Overhead power lines are necessary to deliver electricity to farmsteads and rural homes, but the electricity can be deadly if wires are touched by large equipment. Farmers should be aware of power lines while using large equipment for spring tillage.
Farmers and their equipment should always be 10 feet away from power lines on all sides. Field cultivators and sprayers can often reach as high as 12 feet in the air. Practice extreme caution and use a spotter to make sure you stay far away from power lines when you use tall equipment.
Power lines start to sag over the years. If power lines on your property sag so low you cannot safely work, contact you utility. They will repair sagging lines. Never try to move a power line on your own.
Overhead power lines are not the only electric hazard on the farm. Pole guy wires, used to stabilize utility poles, are grounded. However, when one of the guy wires is broken it can become charged with electricity. If you break a guy wire, call the utility to fix it. Don’t do it yourself.
Farmers may want to consider moving or burying power lines around buildings or busy pathways where many farm activities take place.
You should also call 8-1-1, a free national service, to locate your underground utilities. You should know where underground utilities are located, and how to avoid them.