Iowa State University

Electrocution is quick and deadly, and may be one of the most overlooked hazards on the farm.

Every year, 62 farm workers in the United States are killed by electrocution. In 1991, two Iowa farm workers were killed and two others were injured in accidents involving electricity.

Portable grain augers, oversized wagons, large combines and other tall or cumbersome equipment easily can contact overhead power lines. The result is electrocution of anyone on the equipment.

To eliminate your hazards of electrocution:

  • Always lower a portable grain auger before you move it, even if only a few feet.
  • Keep all objects at least 10 feet away from overhead lines. Know where all overhead power lines are located on your property and inform all workers about them.
  • Plan your route between fields, to bins and elevators, and on public roads so that you avoid low-hanging power lines. If someone else transports large equipment, always specify a safe route and explain why certain routes must be taken.
  • Be sure you and everyone else in your operation know what to do in an emergency.
  • If equipment gets hung up on a power line, the operator should NOT get off the machinery unless in immediate danger. If the operator touches the ground and the equipment at the same time, he or she will become a channel for electricity.
  • If you must leave the equipment, jump as far away from the machinery as possible. Never get back on machinery that touches a power line until the utility company disconnects the line.
  • Investigate the possibility of burying power lines in heavily used areas on the farm, such as around grain bins.


This newsletter item was distributed by Iowa State University Extension as part of the Safe Farm program. Safe Farm promotes health and safety in agriculture. It is funded by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, Iowa State University, and a network of groups that serve Iowa farm workers and their families. Distribution date: November 1992.

Disclaimer and Reproduction Information: Information in NASD does not represent NIOSH policy. Information included in NASD appears by permission of the author and/or copyright holder. More

Reviewed for NASD: 04/2002