Fall Harvest An Important Time To Focus On Safety Around Powerlines

Nebraska Public Power District (NPPD) is asking farmers to exercise caution and safety around power lines this harvest season as they move their large equipment back into the fields.

Large equipment getting close to, or hitting, powerlines becomes a significant hazard during the harvest season, says NPPD Transmission, Distribution, Construction and Maintenance Manager Scott Walz. “If equipment operators don’t take the extra time to check for powerlines in areas where they are operating their equipment, it can be easy to make a mistake that results in severe or even fatal injury,” adds Walz. “If large equipment gets too close to a power line, electricity can arc from the line to the equipment.”

NPPD encourages equipment operators to keep their machines 20 feet away from powerlines to avoid the possibility of any electricity arcing from the line to the equipment. “Taking the precautionary effort to look up and look out for powerlines can promote a safe work environment, and our hope is that everyone working this harvest season can do so in a safe manner,” says Walz.

If a vehicle or piece of equipment is in contact with a powerline, contact 911 or your local power provider and remain inside the vehicle until help can arrive and de-energize the powerline. When a powerline is touching a vehicle, it can electrify both the vehicle and the ground in the surrounding area. If a fire forces you to exit the vehicle, then do so by jumping away from the vehicle, landing on two feet, and shuffling as far away from the area as possible.

NPPD recommends farmers review the following safety precautions before entering the fields to begin harvest operations. Find more information on farm safety at NPPD.com.

  • Each day, review all farm activities and work practices that will take place around powerlines and remind all workers to take precautions
  • Know the location of powerlines and when setting up the farm equipment, be at least 20 feet away from them. Contact your local public power provider if you feel this distance cannot be achieved.
  • Use caution when raising augers or the bed of a grain truck or wagon. It can be difficult to estimate distance, and sometimes a powerline is closer than it looks. For large equipment, use a spotter to ensure the equipment stays a safe distance from the line.
  • Always adjust portable augers or elevators to their lowest possible level – under 14 feet – before transporting them. Variables like wind, uneven ground, or shifting weight can cause unexpected results.