Many farmers use Global Position System (GPS) technology to be more productive and efficient in their farming operations. GPS equipment manufacturers have developed several tools which are being used 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, as GPS systems on farm equipment may not take into account the location or varying heights of any, or all, power lines in an area.
Apart from the serious personal risks of injury or death to the Operator, power line contact incidents 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 incident:
- Know the height and width of your equipment
- Know the location and clearance height of all power lines in the area 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
- Contact your local electric utility with any specific concerns you may have about GPS operations near power lines