Avoiding contact eliminates potential injuries, outages
Columbus, Neb. - It’s a nice spring morning and a local farmer is operating his boom sprayer in his field. He makes a turn and without warning there is a sudden jerk, and something comes falling down on the cab of the vehicle.
Lights in nearby homes start blinking and power is temporarily lost in the area. The farmer has a portion of an overhead power line wrapped around his equipment – a line that may still be energized.
“This is a scenario that occurs every year, so it’s important that all farm workers look up and around and determine where power lines are before moving large pieces of equipment under them,” said Nebraska Public Power District Director of Delivery Art Wiese. “We want all farmers and their crews to be safe when doing their work and we want to be able to keep the lights on.”
Wiese explained that if a piece of farm equipment gets tangled in a power line, the first thing to do is contact 911 and remain with the vehicle as the line may still be energized. Law enforcement can contact NPPD or one of the many rural public power districts to respond with trained and experienced crews to remove the line and safely extract the individual from the equipment.
If there is imminent danger, such as a fire, the driver should jump as far away as possible from the equipment, making sure that no part of the body touches the tractor and the ground at the same time. When jumping, it is important to land standing up with both feet together. The individual should then shuffle their feet a few inches at a time, making sure to never break contact with the ground or cause separation between the feet. Do not attempt to return to the equipment and always wait for emergency responders and the power utility to respond.
“A few years ago we had a farmer with a boom sprayer make contact with an 115,000-kilovolt transmission line and fortunately was not hurt,” Wiese explained. The contact created an outage that affected several hundred NPPD customers and at least two rural public power districts. “The farmer, who was pretty startled and was not hurt, did not realize the length of the boom sprayer and made contact with the transmission line. That’s why it is important to look up and around.”
Some additional safety tips for farm workers include: