May 04, 2021 1:15 PM

NPPD: 'Look up and around for power lines'

Posted May 04, 2021 1:15 PM

Columbus – Spring is slowly creeping along, which means farmers and ranchers are gearing up for planting season. On the flip side, Nebraska Public Power District (NPPD) urges caution in the fields when it comes to power lines and large farm equipment.

“We encourage the farming community to look up and around for powerlines,” said Scott Walz, NPPD Distribution and Transmission Maintenance Manager. “A year ago, we had a rash of contacts between equipment, primarily boom sprayers and power lines, during planting season. The contacts caused numerous power outages and fortunately no loss of life. Nevertheless, contact by with any equipment with a power line has the potential to damage the electronics in the unit.”

Walz recommends that after moving large equipment into the field, operators should review where the power lines are in relationship to their equipment. “After determining where the overhead lines are and making any adjustments to the equipment, in the case of boom sprayer, you can start to unrack the unit,” Walz pointed out. When operators complete their work, they should double-check the lines before re-racking the equipment.

“We want to keep the lights on,” Walz added, “but most importantly, we want farmers and their crews to go home safe every day.”

Contact with a powerline or even being within a few feet of the line with a piece of equipment can result in a dangerous, potentially fatal, situation. The first thing to do after making contact, or if a line falls on the equipment, is to call 911 and remain inside the vehicle as the line may still be energized. Law enforcement can contact NPPD or one of the many rural public power districts who will safely remove the lines and stabilize the situation.

In the event an individual is forced to leave the vehicle, jump as far away as possible from the equipment, making sure no body part touches the equipment and the ground at the same time. It is crucial to land standing with both feet together. The individual should then shuffle their feet, making sure to never break contact with the ground or cause separation between the feet. Do not attempt to return to the equipment and always wait for emergency responders and the power utility to respond.

For more information, see the safety tips below or check out the spring harvest safety video on NPPD’s YouTube page.

• Each day review all farm activities and work practices that will take place around power lines and remind all workers to take precautions. Start each morning by planning the day’s work during a tailgate safety meeting.

• Know what jobs will happen near power lines and have a plan to keep the assigned workers safe.

• Know the location of power lines, and when setting up the farm equipment, be at least 20 feet away from them.