Harvest season is upon us. With the help of GPS auto-steer devices, many farmers are able to decrease driver error and maximize productivity. Yet, safety risks remain.

In equipment with auto-guidance systems, less focus is needed on steering, which may lead some drivers to think they do not need to be as aware of navigation issues. However, even while using a GPS with auto-steering, farm workers need to keep safety in mind and stay focused on their surroundings.

One critical part of safety around electricity is awareness. It is important to remember that farm machinery is vulnerable to hitting power lines, because of its large size, height and extensions.  Being aware of the location of overhead power lines and planning a safe equipment route can help reduce accidents.

Putting safety first requires alertness, focus and knowledge of potential hazards and safety steps.  Varying pass-to-pass accuracy levels and potential issues, such as power poles not being correctly plotted in the system, reinforce the need for drivers to stay focused on the location of the farm equipment while in the field and to be ready to take action if necessary.

Regardless of the technology used on the farm, keep the following electrical safety guidelines in mind:

  • Use a spotter when operating large machinery near power lines.
  • Keep equipment at least 10 feet from power lines– at all times, in all directions.
  • Look up and use care when moving any equipment, such as extending augers or raising the bed of grain trucks around power lines.
  • Inspect the height of farm equipment to determine clearance.
  • Never attempt to move a power line out of the way or raise it for clearance.
  • Contact Burke-Divide Electric Cooperative if you have low or sagging power lines on your property.
  • If your equipment makes contact with an energized or downed power line, contact 911 immediately and remain inside the vehicle until the power line is deenergized. In case of smoke or fire, exit the cab by making a solid jump out of the cab (without touching it), and hop away to safety.

Sept. 17-23 is National Farm Safety and Health Week, but practicing safety on the farm year-round yields positive results. We hope you never find yourself in a situation where farming equipment contacts power lines or poles, but if you do, we hope you’ll remember these safety tips.

Harvest Safety Graphic