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Is GPS Putting Farmers at Risk?

April 3rd, 2017

Many farmers and agricultural workers use Global Position Systems (GPS) technology to make their work more productive and efficient. But does relying on this technology do more harm than good?

GPS equipment manufacturers have developed several tools for farm planning, field mapping, soil sampling, tractor guidance, crop scouting, variable rate applications and yield mapping. As beneficial as this technology is, the growing use of GPS-controlled machinery may be adding to the risks associated with working near overhead power lines.

GPS systems on farm equipment often don't take into account the location or varying heights of all (or any) power lines on your property. Apart from the serious risks of injury or death, power line contacts can also damage vital utility infrastructure and cause power outages in nearby areas.

If you’re using GPS technology, follow these steps to minimize your risk of a power line contact:

  • Know the height and width of your equipment
  • Know the location and clearance height of all power lines on your property prior to beginning any activity
  • Reset your GPS equipment before every use
  • Pay close visual attention during GPS-guided operations to watch out for potential power line hazards
  • Use a spotter when moving large loads to alert you of sagging power lines that may not be visible on your GPS
  • Contact your local utility company with any specific concerns you may have about GPS operations near power lines

Learn more about safe distances for working near overhead power lines and Alberta's Occupational Health and Safety guidelines.

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Contact Map

Think power line contacts are few and far between? Think again.
See the overhead and underground contacts occurring near you.

The Joint Utility Safety Team (JUST) is a partnership between the following Alberta electric utilities with contributions from local municipalities, formed to address the frequency of power line contacts across the province.