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Electrical Safety on the Farm

Photo of a farm with a power pole in the foreground.
Electrical hazards on the farm can cause injury or death to people and livestock and result in fires in barns and other structures.

Your electric power is generally safe and reliable but can be dangerous if used improperly. Electrical hazards on the farm can cause injury or death to people and livestock and result in fires in barns and other structures. Use these measures to help protect yourself, your workers, and your property.

Keep your workplace safe

Start by looking for potential electrical hazards in your work environment and taking steps to ensure safety.

Farm environments can be rough on electrical systems and equipment. Humidity in confinement houses or milking facilities can deteriorate electrical boxes. Light fixtures, wiring, and boxes can be damaged by contact with animals or machinery.

Locate circuit boxes away from dangerous surroundings where they may come into contact with livestock, dust, or weather elements. Install covers on all outlets and switches, lightbulbs, and fixtures.

Here are some additional tips for improving the safety of your farm workspace:

  • Protect wiring from the elements. In corrosive agricultural environments, it's typically best to use underground electric cables to prevent damage to the wiring.

  • Use ground-fault circuit interrupters. Make sure all electrical outlets in work areas are ground-fault circuit interrupters (GFCIs), which protect people from shock hazard.

  • Weatherize electrical components. Make sure that all outdoor electrical equipment is enclosed by watertight covers to prevent damage to equipment and potential injury.

Safe work practices

Use these tips to make sure you're working safely around electricity:

  • Check power cords. Power cords are used extensively on farms. Powering tools to machinery, cords see a lot of wear and tear. Check cords regularly for frays or exposed wiring.

  • Use extension cords safely. Avoid using extension cords on a permanent basis. If you do use them, inspect them for wear and tear before plugging in. Ensure the cord is sized correctly for the application, especially if you're using heavy equipment. Overloading an extension cord can result in excessive heating, which may lead to a fire.

  • Inspect power tools regularly. If you are working with power tools frequently, check all the parts and ensure all the connections are secure and that the power cord is not frayed.

  • Turn off and lock out power boxes. It's important to lock out all power boxes when performing maintenance to prevent an electrical accident with equipment or wiring.

  • Stay away from overhead power lines. Moving equipment around under power lines is a frequent occurrence in many agricultural operations. Be aware of where power lines are located and avoid them when moving equipment with high clearance. Check clearance when raising dump truck beds.

  • Be aware of underground power lines. If you plan on doing any projects on your property that require digging, make sure to first call 811 to have utility lines marked.

With just a little extra time and attention to detail, you can use power safely and effectively on your farm.

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