|Irrigation Equipment Safety|
|Library of Articles - Farm Safety|
Know How to Stay Safe When Using Farm Irrigation Equipment
After thousands of gallons of well water are pumped daily through irrigation pipes, they clog with sediment that may be tough to remove. Two farm workers in Colorado raised a 30 foot long aluminum irrigation pipe to a vertical position, and tried to bounce the sediment out, when the pipe tipped into a power line 27 feet above the ground. A 24 year old laborer was electrocuted when the pipe contacted the 7,200 volt line, but a co-worker was able to recover from his electrical shock.
Irrigation-related electrical hazards are a growing problem in many regions of the country. While such systems are important for farm profitability, they can be lethal if caution is not taken near power lines or if not properly maintained.
Even a seasoned professional who had repaired irrigation systems in Nebraska for 20 years lost his life when he came in contact with live electrical wiring. A rural electric supplier in Nebraska tested irrigation systems for problems and found 37% were potentially hazardous due to a lack of a grounding conductor. Nearly 40% did not have a ground rod installed, and more than 50% did not have a fuse or means of disconnection. They also found loose connections, improper circuit and motor protection and deteriorated insulation.
Remember, water and electricity are a dangerous mix. Electricity follows the shortest path to the ground and can flow through any conductive material, such as water or metal. Do not allow irrigation water nozzles to spray on power lines. A water stream hitting a power line could energize the entire system, creating a shock hazard to anyone nearby or in contact with the equipment.
Take some time to survey your surroundings before moving equipment. Look up and around you; note any power lines that could be close enough to come into contact with equipment – and stay away. Always know the location of nearby electrical lines when working with irrigation equipment. Any contact between the irrigation equipment and nearby electrical lines could be fatal or cause serious injury.
To ensure safe operation of irrigation equipment, Safe Electricity offers the following tips:
If an irrigation pipe comes in contact with a power line, never try to remove it yourself. Stay away from it and call your local electric utility for help.