Electrical Safety on the Farm

Even when you’re away from the barn and farmhouse, farm equipment might still contact powerlines. Augers, combines, front-end loaders and aerial lifts are some of the equipment that needs caution around powerlines. Follow these safety tips to help avoid electrical safety hazards.

6 Powerline Safety Tips for the Farm 

  1. Look up, look out! Identify all powerlines on the farm. Make sure people and equipment stay at least three metres away to prevent an incident. Electricity can jump to you or your equipment if you’re too close to a powerline. 
  2. Watch for downed or damaged powerlines. If you see one, stay at least 10 metres away (33 feet or the length of a school bus) and call 911 and your Local Distribution Company. 
  3. Beware of the height of your equipment. Temperature and line loading can cause powerlines to sag. If they do, will your equipment still fit? 
  4. If you are in a vehicle that comes in contact with a powerline, stay in the vehicle. Call 911. Make sure everyone on the site, including emergency first responders, stays at least 10 metres back. Wait for the utility worker on site to confirm that the power is off. 
  5. Work gloves and rubber boots offer no protection against contact with a powerline. The best protection is distance. Keep at least three metres between you and your tools and a powerline. 
  6. The safest way to move a ladder, pole, pipe or rod from one location to another is to have two people carry it. Carry these horizontally to avoid contact with overhead wires.

Getting Grounded

  • Confirm your farm’s entire electrical system is properly grounded; 
  • Check Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter (GFCI) receptacles or breakers monthly. Make sure they are in good operating condition; and
  • Ensure electrical tools have proper grounding protection.

Electrical Service 

  • Make sure family members and hired farm workers know how to disconnect the power in case of an electrical emergency; 
  • Ensure outlets, switches, and light fixtures are rated for the environment (weather, dust, damp) they will encounter. All electrical equipment used outdoors must be rated for outdoor use; 
  • Conduct regular visual inspections of wiring and extension cords to identify damage;  
  • Do not overload panels, circuits and outlets; 
  • Confirm there is at least three feet of clearance in front of all electrical panels; and
  • Consult a Licensed Electrical Contractor about any concerns about your electrical system.

ESA strongly recommends you have a Licensed Electrical Contractor check the wiring, outlets and other electrical equipment on your farm. Click here to find a Licensed Electrical Contractor near you. 

ESA Guidelines

Infrastructure Health & Safety Association Resources