News Releases

It’s harvest season – look up and look out for power lines

September 27, 2018

Columbus, Neb. – With the arrival of harvest season, Nebraska Public Power District is reminding farm operators to “look up and look out” for power lines.

Hitting power lines becomes a significant hazard during the harvest season, as farm operators begin moving tall equipment back out to the fields. “Equipment can get caught in power lines if operators are not aware of their surroundings,” noted Transmission and Distribution Manager Art Wiese, “even coming too close to a power line can cause electricity to arc to your equipment.”

Avoiding contact with a power line is the best way to stay safe, but NPPD wants everyone to know what to do if contact does happen.  Remaining inside the equipment, until help can arrive, is critical to everyone’s safety.  Contact with power lines can result in serious or fatal accidents.

“Calling for help is important in avoiding injuries,” says Wiese, “If a line is not de-energized by a public power utility crew, stepping out of the vehicle could cause your body to become the path and electrocution could occur. Even if the power line is resting on the ground nearby, that surrounding area could potentially 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. 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 including:

  • Each day, review all farm activities and work practices that will take place around power lines and remind all workers to take precautions. Start each morning by planning the day’s work during a tailgate safety meeting. Know what jobs will happen near power lines and have a plan to keep the assigned workers safe.
  • 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.