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The Shocking Danger on Alberta Farms

September 3rd, 2019

In the past year, there have been over 130 farm-related power line contacts in Alberta and 43% of agricultural workers have reported direct hits or near misses. In such a safety oriented industry, how are these contacts happening? A few factors may be at play.

For starters, the size of farm equipment and machinery has doubled since the 1950s. While the height of an average tractor is 3.95m, the height of overhead power lines in agricultural areas is 4.2m — a mere 25cm clearance. Seemingly routine tasks, like moving equipment from field to field, can be dangerous if the height of the equipment isn’t considered and a safe route planned. If you need to move or operate oversized equipment near overhead power lines, always contact ATCO or FortisAlberta before beginning any work.

Raising and lowering booms, wings and extensions near overhead power lines is also putting farmers at risk. A distance of 7 metres should always be maintained between the highest point of your equipment and overhead lines, a precaution that’s especially important for farm equipment that can extend far beyond that.

What many agricultural workers may not realize is that under certain conditions, electricity can arc or "jump" from the line, energizing your equipment, the surrounding area and you. The higher the voltage of the line, the more likely it is for an arc to occur. Humidity can also play a role in these conditions.

Whether you're a seasonal worker or have worked your entire career in agriculture, remember these three rules for working near power lines:

  1. Know the height and width of your equipment
  2. If you need to get closer than 7 meters, contact your electrical utility for further instructions or assistance
  3. Always use caution when raising and lowering booms, wings and extensions

Have more questions about power line safety in Alberta? Contact our team!

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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.