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Farmers urged to look up during harvest season

September 8, 2011

Every year, an average 62 farm workers are electrocuted in the United States and many more are injured, according to Labor Department statistics. The Iowa Association of Electric Cooperatives urges farm operators, family members, and employees to beware of overhead power lines, to keep farm equipment safely away and to know what to do if accidental contact is made with power lines.

It’s vital to keep equipment safety away from them, a minimum 10 foot safety radius around the electric line. Farm operators, family members, and farm employees are urged to take these measures:

  • Use a spotter when moving tall loads near lines.
  • Inspect farm equipment for transport height and determine clearance with any power lines under which the equipment must pass.
  • Make sure everyone knows what to do if accidental contact is made with power lines.
  • Call your electricity provider to fix sagging lines or damaged guy wires.

It’s almost always best to stay in the cab, call for help and wait until the electric utility arrives to cut off the power. If the power line is energized and you step outside, your body becomes the path and electrocution is the result. Stay inside the vehicle unless there’s fire or imminent risk of fire. In that case, the proper action is to jump – not step – with both feet hitting the ground at the same time. Jump clear, without touching the vehicle and ground at the same time and continue to shuffle or hop to safety keeping both feet together as you leave the area.

Visit www.SafeElectricity.org and watch the video story of farmer Jim Flach, who was fatally injured as he climbed down from his equipment that was in contact with overhead power lines.

Visit Living with Energy in Iowa, a magazine for members of Touchstone Energy Cooperatives, has additional information for fall harvest safety, www.livingwithenergyiniowa.com/.

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