Electricity is used extensively on almost every farm. However, when it isn’t used properly, fatal accidents can occur. The National Safety Council reports more than 800 electrical fatalities annually. On average, more than 40 of these deaths are directly related to farming operations. The information shared on this document is intended help prevent these type of incidents from happening to you or someone you love. Check out the Growing Safely Electrical Safety video.
Take a moment to review these electrical safety guidelines to apply to your daily operations.
DO keep all electrical devices, including extension cords, away from animals, water or damp areas.
DO keep all power tools, motors and other electrical equipment in good repair.
DO check equipment, cords and plugs frequently for signs of fraying, cracking or scorching.
DO keep all cords neatly secured and out of traffic areas.
DO lock out tag out (LOTO) the fuse or breaker switch if you need to turn off the power, so no one else turns it on while you're working.
DO look up for overhead electrical lines when moving tall equipment.
DO apply "Look Up" safety decals to augers and other tall equipment.
DO use ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) receptacles on all outlets that are outside or near water sources.
DO familiarize yourself with the location of all overhead and underground power lines, utility equipment such as meters and transformers, and the service panel at each of your buildings.
DO inspect all irrigation systems to ensure proper grounding and operation.
DON'T cut off the third grounding prong on a plug. The grounding conductor acts as a protection between electrical wire and people or animals near the wire.
DON'T use extension cords, power strips, outlet extenders or “cheater” adapter plugs as permanent fixtures. These devices are designed only for temporary use and can overheat or overload a circuit, risking an electrical fire.
DON'T oversize fuses. Circuits are designed for a given amount of current only.
Electrical Contact Accidents
If someone comes in contact with an energized wire or power line, do not touch the victim until you're sure the current has been turned off—you could become part of the circuit and be injured or killed. Unplug the device or cut power at the service panel first.
When you're sure the power has been turned off, call for emergency assistance. If the victim isn't breathing, administer CPR until help arrives. If the victim is in shock, loosen clothing and keep him or her horizontal and warm. Burns should be treated only by medical professionals.
Always seek medical help for an electrical contact accident, no matter how minor it appears. Electricity burns from the inside out, so injuries might not be visible. In addition, the heart can be affected several hours later.
If possible, unplug the device or shut off the power at the main service panel.
Never use water on an electrical fire—use a multipurpose fire extinguisher.
When calling 911, be sure to tell the dispatcher it's an electrical fire.
Downed Power Lines
Report downed power lines to your electric company immediately.
Never let anyone touch or drive over a downed line— even experienced utility personnel can't tell if a line is energized just by looking at it.
Avoid touching anything a downed line is contacting, especially metal fences and equipment. Remember that the area around the downed line, including the soil, equipment or other objects, could also be energized.
If a downed line comes in contact with a vehicle or farm equipment, instruct the driver to stay in the vehicle until help arrives. If there is an immediate danger of a vehicle fire, the driver should jump out of the vehicle, landing with both feet together and avoiding touching both the car and the ground at the same time. The driver should then shuffle away from the vehicle without raising his or her feet.