Electrocution injuries can be quick but often deadly. According to the National Agricultural Safety Database, approximately 62 farmers die every year after being electrocuted. Others suffer burns and disturbances to heart rhythm that may later result in heart failure.
Did You Know?
- According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, nearly one in 10 farmers will be electrocuted on the job!
- Farmers have an 8% chance of electrocution injuries
- August is the riskiest month for electrocution. 35% of annual electrocutions across all industries occur during August.
Common Electrocution Hazards
The most common risk of electrocution is contact with an overhead power line. This can occur when farm equipment hits the lines, which are typically not insulated. Even if the lines are insulated, the insulation may have worn away in areas due to exposure to the elements.
Exposed underground power lines also pose electrocution risk, and defective wiring and extension cords are other common causes of electrocution, along with internal wiring in farm buildings.
Equipment / Power Line Contact
Any elevated equipment, especially equipment that is mobile, may come into contact with overhead power lines. For example:
- Tractors with front-end loaders
- Portable grain augers
- Fold-up cultivators
- Equipment with antennas
- Ensure a safe distance between the equipment and overhead wires—Ask local utility company officials to determine how high power lines are in each area of the farm. Then decide what clearance any equipment you are using will need. Maintain a distance of at least 10 ft. from the top of the equipment and the power line.
- Disconnect the power, if you can do so safely before you touch a victim of electric shock.
- Call Emergency Services.
- Design a safety training program that includes electrical safety hazard instruction.
- Train seasonal employees to be aware of where power lines are and of clearance distance requirements.
- Turn on the transfer switch on the emergency generator. This removes the farm’s electrical system from the power company’s utility lines. The switch also protects the generator when power is restored.
Compensation is Available for Electrocution Injuries
It’s important to remember that no matter how many safety precautions you take, farm work is highly dangerous. When you’re injured on the job, it’s likely you are not at fault, and you may be eligible for compensation.
If you are an injured farm worker, if one of your family members has been injured or died from being electrocuted on the job, or if you have lost wages due to electrocution injury, you may be entitled to compensation—including payments over and above Worker’s Compensation.
For a free and totally confidential consultation, contact the Farm Injury Resource Center.