In recent years, the agricultural industry has seen a rise in power line accidents. Tractors, front-end loaders, grain augers, wing-type cultivators, air seeders, sprayers and equipment with antennas or booms have higher incident rates – but there’s also certain times of year when farmers and ranchers have a higher risk of being involved in a power line accident.
Most agricultural power line incidents happen during spring seeding between April and early June, as well as winter wheat seeding in September. During these stressful months, spraying and harvesting are particularly dangerous activities and demand extra caution.
Severe weather such as ice storms, hoarfrost, extreme cold and heavy winds can cause power lines to break. If ice builds up on a power line, it can be heavy enough to cause cross arms and poles to come down and conductors to break.
Here’s what to keep an eye out for during the winter months:
- Snow on the ground: A downed power line may remain energized and hidden beneath a layer of snow.
- Low-hanging power lines: Snow and ice storms can cause power lines to sag lower, reducing the height between your equipment and the power line.
- Packed snow: Be aware when driving on packed snow. It can reduce the distance between your equipment and overhead power lines.
- Clearing snow with your equipment: Know the height AND width of your equipment, making sure not to hit a power line pole or an underground transformer.