Electrical Safety for Farmers
electrical safety


Sixty-two farm workers are electrocuted in the United States each year. In addition to many injuries, the vast majority of these deaths could have been prevented if farm workers and their employers had only followed proper electrical safety protocol.


Do everything in your power to minimize risk on your farm this coming spring. Keep the following protocol at the front of your mind, and make certain your team members do the same.


  • Plan ahead. Overhead power lines can carry up to 380,000 volts. An electrical current as weak as 42 volts can be fatal. There is no margin for error when it comes to power lines, so make certain you know when work will be performed around them and develop a plan that will ensure your workers’ safety.


  • Maintain distance. Are you operating machinery near power lines? Defer to OSHA on the matter: make certain that no part of the equipment comes closer than 20 feet to a power line. If a power line carries more than 350,000 volts, maintain no less than 50 feet of clearance.


  • Operate carefully. Augurs, combines, grain trucks, and other types of farming equipment can easily touch a power line if they aren’t operated carefully. Assign a spotter to supervise the use of equipment near power lines, and make certain they can effectively warn their coworkers if they are getting too close. Remember: nonmetallic objects can still conduct electricity!


  • Lower extensions. Before moving equipment around your farm, be sure to lower its extensions and do whatever else you can to lower its profile. Take care that some overhead power lines provide less than 16 feet of clearance, which can easily intercept a larger vehicle’s antenna.


  • Anticipate the unexpected. Strong wind, shifting loads, uneven ground, and other conditions can cause operators to lose control of equipment. Exercise extra care while you are operating vehicles and machinery on windy days, transporting loads of loose grain or aggregate, and traversing loose-packed soil or sloping ground.


  • Leave power lines alone. Under no circumstances should you ever attempt to raise or move a sagging or fallen power line, even if it is blocking a path you need to perform important work. Contact your utility provider to request any necessary repairs.


  • Do not exit equipment. If you are operating a vehicle or piece of machinery that has come into contact with a power line, do not exit it. Doing so can cause your body to become the electrical current’s path of least resistance to the ground. Remain inside the equipment until utility workers have made exit safe. If an emergency (e.g. fire) requires your immediate exit, jump clear of the vehicle with both feet positioned together. Hop away, keeping your feet together the whole time, until you are at least 40 feet away.


Hire a Qualified Electrical Contractor


A farm’s electrical systems are too powerful and too valuable to entrust to the care of a DIYer or residential electrician. Only an industrial electrician is qualified to safely install, repair and service farm equipment.


If you need an electrician to service your farm or agricultural facility in the Midwest, Oklahoma or Texas, then we welcome you to contact Mid States Electric of Lawton, IA today. We have proudly served business owners for over three decades. Our experienced professionals, best practices, and high-quality materials all represent your safest choice for your property.