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Electrical Safety on the Farm

Powerlines Farm

Even when you’re deep in the fields, away from the barn and farmhouse, the danger exists for equipment to come in contact with powerlines. Augers, combines, front-end loaders and aerial lifts are just a few examples where caution needs to be exercised when in use around powerlines. Follow these safety tips to help avoid electrical safety hazards.

7 Powerline Safety Tips for the Farm

1. Look up, look out! Identify all powerlines on the farm and make sure people and equipment stay at least three metres away to prevent an incident. Electricity can jump to you or your equipment if you’re too close to a powerline.

2. Look out for downed or damaged powerlines. If you see one, stay at least 10 metres or 33 feet away, call 911 and your Local Distribution Company.

3. Beware of the height of your equipment. Weather conditions can impact powerlines causing them to sag – will equipment fit?

4. Confirm the transfer switch on any standby generation equipment is operating properly.

5. If you are in a vehicle that comes in contact with a powerline, stay in the vehicle, call 911, and make sure everyone else on the site, including emergency first responders, stay at least 10 metres back until the utility worker on site can confirm that the power has been shut off.

6. Work gloves and rubber boots offer no protection against contact with a powerline. The best protection is distance: at least three metres between you and your tools and a powerline.

7. The safest way to move a ladder, pole, pipe or rod from one location to another is to have two people carry it. Carry these horizontally to avoid contact with overhead wires.

Getting Grounded

  • Confirm your farm’s entire electrical system is properly grounded.
  • Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter (GFCI) receptacles or breakers should be checked monthly to ensure they are in good operating condition.
  • Ensure electrical tools have proper grounding protection.

Electrical Service

  • Ensure family members and all hired farm workers know where and how to disconnect power in case of an electrical emergency.
  • Ensure outlets, switches, and light fixtures subject to weather, dust or damp conditions are properly rates for the environment the equipment will be subjected to. All electrical equipment used outdoors needs to be rated for outdoor use.
  • Conduct regular visual inspections of wiring and extension cords to identify any damage.
  • Ensure that panels, circuits and outlets are not overloaded.
  • Confirm there is at least 3 feet of clearance in front of all electrical panels.
  • Consult a Licensed Electrical Contractor about any concerns regarding your electrical system.

ESA strongly recommends having the wiring, outlets and other electrical equipment on your farm checked by a Licensed Electrical Contractor. Click here to find a Licensed Electrical Contractor near you.

For more information about powerline safety from the Infrastructure Health & Safety Association, visit these sites:

Powerline Contacts - Limits of Approach - Know your limits

Electrical Hazards - Infrastructure Health & Safety Association