On the Line
By Mike J. Olberding, Operations Manager
This article goes out to all the hard-working people that bring in a very valuable harvest every year. So, this should touch about everyone in the community in some way.
I would like to talk about farming around utility poles, which can be very dangerous and sometimes even fatal. Too often we hear of a farmer or grain elevator employee getting electrocuted from contacting a power line. The tractors, spray rigs, combines, headers, oversize grain wagons, grain augers, planters, etc. have all gotten so big and tall in recent years. Imagine looking out the side window of a 90-foot spray boom to make sure the booms won’t hit obstacles. The depth perception can especially be a challenge when trying to get the boom folded up and out of the way of power poles and power lines.
DS&O electric averages around two public accidents a month. That’s two too many. Some are vehicle accidents, and the others are linked to farming in some way. Every one of these accidents causes damage to either the vehicle, the equipment, or the power line. In addition to line outages caused by such accidents, there are also personal injuries or even fatalities.
My recommendation once you purchase a new piece of equipment would be to give it a test run before you need to use it in the field. Have someone watching the first time to see how much clearance it has in gate ways and under power lines. Make sure when you put someone in a piece of equipment for the first time, they are well-trained, and they understand all the dangers that come with the equipment. My experience with a lot of these accidents is it’s usually a person’s first time in the piece of equipment and they truly don’t understand everything about it. I think the new GPS farm technology on today’s tractors, combines, and spray rigs will help keep these pieces of equipment away from the utility lines, but you still need to be aware of your surroundings and the size of the equipment you’re operating.
If you ever happen to have an accident involving a power line, here are a few safety tips to keep in mind:
- If the vehicle/equipment you are in contacts a power line, then please make sure you stay in the cab and call for help.
- If there is imminent risk of fire, then jump clear of the vehicle/equipment and land with both feet on 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.
- Do not try to get back on a piece of equipment that has a power line on it.
- Treat all electric lines and equipment as if they are energized; just because a wire is on the ground does not mean it is no longer hot.
Finally, if your farm or business has a clearance issue that you feel needs addressed, please contact the office. We would like to keep our members as safe as possible.