Electrical risks are one of the most overlooked hazards in agriculture. According to the National Ag Safety Database (NASD), thousands of workers are shocked and burned due to accidental contact with electricity each year, and an estimated $1.2 billion in property damage occurs because of faulty electrical usage.
Accidents happen for a variety of reasons. One of the biggest dangers is overhead power lines. Workers using portable grain augers, large wagons, combines, fold-up cultivators, and other tall equipment should know where power lines are located as well as the clearance needed for equipment that must travel underneath the lines. Maintaining a minimum 10-foot clearance between the power line and the top of equipment traveling under it is a good rule of thumb. It’s also important to keep in mind that some equipment during transport may be taller when in use.
Electrical current from high voltage lines can flow through a vehicle and energize the ground up to 100 feet away. If a vehicle comes in contact with a power line, workers should stay in the vehicle unless there is a fire, in which case they should jump as far away as possible. Immediately contact the utility company to have the power shut off. Further, the NASD cautions:
Electrical hazards can also result from the degradation of electrical wiring due to rodents, normal wear, corrosion, or improper wiring. Regularly checking electrical panels, lighting, equipment, wiring connections, and outlets on buildings and equipment is an important step towards protecting workers and property. And because water is essential to any agribusiness, ensure all wiring is protected against contact with water.
If you have livestock, vapors from animal waste in confinement housing can corrode electrical components. High humidity in milking facilities can deteriorate conventional metal electrical boxes.
To minimize electrical risks:
Avoid tragic accidents by taking the time to monitor work that takes place around power lines and electrical equipment. Contact AssuredPartners Agribusiness resources to help your operation foster a culture of safety.
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