Columbus, Neb. – Spring flooding has caused Nebraska farmers to have an unusual growing season, but as operators head out to harvest crops, Nebraska Public Power District (NPPD) wants to remind farmers to look up and look out for power lines.
Hitting power lines becomes a significant hazard during the harvest season, as farmers take large pieces of equipment back out to the field. “It’s important for operators to be cautious when working in areas that have power lines,” says NPPD Director of Delivery Art Weise. “It’s easy for an operator to accidentally get a piece of
equipment stuck in a power line if they are not completely aware of their surroundings.” In July, NPPD saw an example of this when a well drilling rig being driven through a field became tangled in an overhead power line, causing a localized power outage. Luckily no one was injured.
“Avoiding contact with power lines is the best way to stay safe, but if a piece of your equipment hits a power line, calling for help is an important step in avoiding potentially fatal injuries,” says Wiese. “When a powerline is touching a piece of equipment, that piece of equipment and the area surrounding it could be energized.” If you are forced to exit the vehicle, the appropriate action is to jump – not step – with both feet landing on the ground at the same time without falling. Do not touch the vehicle and ground at the same time and begin shuffling your feet on the ground to safety. Never simply step out of the vehicle – the person must jump clear of the equipment. NPPD recommends that farmers review the following safety precautions before entering the fields to begin harvest operations, or for more details and video footage follow this link:
• Each day review all farm activities and work practices that will take place around power lines and remind all
workers to take precautions.
• Know the location of power lines, 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 power line is closer than it looks. When moving large equipment or high loads near a
power line, always use a spotter to make certain the equipment stays a safe distance from the line.
• Always adjust portable augers or elevators to their lowest possible level – under 14 feet – before moving or
transporting them. Variables like wind, uneven ground, shifting weight, or other conditions can combine to
create an unexpected result.
• Be aware of increased height when loading and transporting larger modern tractors with higher antennas.
• Never attempt to raise or move a power line to clear a path. If power lines near your property have sagged
over time, call your public power utility to repair them.
• As in any outdoor work, be careful not to raise any equipment such as ladders, poles, or rods near or into
power lines. Non-metallic materials such as lumber, tree limbs, tires, ropes, and hay will conduct electricity
depending on dampness and dust and dirt contamination.