Farm Workers Electrocuted When Irrigation Pipes Contact Powerlines

  • Helgerson, Steven D.;
  • Milham, Jr., Samuel


For accidental electrocutions in Washington State from 1950 to 1979, the standardized proportionate mortality ratio for farmers compared with the general population was found to be 226 in a recent report. This excess mortality rate in Washington State was investigated by the authors, who reviewed death certificates and associated local newspaper reports of all farmers killed by electrocution during 1950-79 and of all persons killed by electrocution during 1970-79. Selected employers, next of kin, and public utility personnel were also interviewed.

In Washington State 42 farmers were electrocuted during the years 1950-79; 23 of them were killed while working near irrigation pipes that came into contact with overhead electrical lines. During 1970-79 there were 15 irrigation pipe-associated (IPA) electrocutions among farmers and 15 among farm workers. The average age of farmers who suffered IPA electrocutions, 33.2 years, was less than the average age of farmers whose electrocutions were not associated with irrigation pipes, 48.9 years. Among persons less than 20 years old, IPA electrocutions were more common than any other type of electrocutions. During the months of April through September, 93 percent of the IPA electrocutions occurred as compared with only 61 percent of other types of electrocution.

Among measures for the prevention of these electrocutions are education of the population at risk and changes in methods of irrigation.


JOURNAL: Public Health Rep. 1985; 100(3): 325-328.

Note: Public Health Reports.

NLOM ID#: 85217113 .

Publication #: 85217113

This document was extracted from the CDC-NIOSH Epidemiology of Farm Related Injuries: Bibliography With Abstracts, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Public Health Service, Centers for Disease Control, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health.

We are unable to supply copies of the full report cited in this entry. Readers are advised to use the following sources:

  • Author or publisher: articles are frequently available from the author or publisher.
  • Medical or other research libraries: these facilities often have the material on hand or know where it can be obtained. If available, each journal entry includes the appropriate National Library of Medicine unique identification number to aid in interlibrary loan requests.
  • Government: some U.S. Government-sponsored research reports, including ones out-of print, are available from the National Technical Information Service, U.S. Department of Commerce.

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