Avoid hazards with grain bins

Electrical power is an indispensable part of modern agricultural operations. In fact, electricity is such a commonplace part of a farm operation that it can all too easily become a part of the scenery and its hazards overlooked.

One often overlooked safety consideration is the power line clearance required for grain bins. Safe Electricity provides tips on avoiding electrical hazards around the farm, including the construction of grain bins.

Electrical hazards include large equipment and farm structures near overhead power lines. The best way to avoid problems is to keep equipment and new construction a safe distance from power lines.

Equipment and vehicles, such as augers and grain trucks, around grain bins are at risk of contacting overhead power lines. It is important that bins be built a safe distance from power lines to help ensure the safety of all farm workers.

The National Electrical Safety Code sets the minimum distance that power lines must be above and around grain bins. Your electric cooperative may have additional requirements. If planning on constructing a new grain bin, contact your electric co-op before any construction begins. They can help you determine minimum safety requirements.

Keep these additional safety tips in mind anytime you are operating large farm equipment around power lines:

  • Always keep equipment at least 10 feet from lines in all directions.
  • Inspect the height of the farm equipment to determine clearance.
  • Always remember to lower extensions when moving loads.
  • Use a spotter when operating large machinery near lines.
  • Never attempt to move a power line out of the way or raise it for clearance.
  • If a power line is sagging or low, contact your cooperative.

If equipment does make contact with a power line, remember to stay on the equipment until lineworkers arrive to de-energize the lines. Warn others to stay away and call 9-1-1 immediately.

The only reason to exit is if the equipment is on fire. If this is the case, jump off the equipment with your feet together and without touching the ground and vehicle at the same time. Then, still keeping your feet together, “bunny hop” away to safety.

For more electrical safety information, visit SafeElectricity.org.