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'Remember to look up': Power company offers safety tips

Otter Tail Power Company is urging farmers to watch out for power lines and other equipment.

"When you're working long hours or rushing to beat the weather, it's easy to overlook power lines and related equipment," Greg Overland, the company's safety services manager, said. "But it's important to plan ahead and caution employees and family members working with you about potential hazards. Know the size of your machinery. And always remember to look up."

Overland offered additional tips:

• Use a spotter when moving large equipment, such as combines, grain augers and tillage, spraying, excavation or irrigation equipment, near power lines.

• Pay special attention when hoisting truck boxes or folding tillage equipment for transport so they don't contact energized lines. Be careful when entering or leaving a field where you may encounter power lines that cross the field approach.

• Allow ample room around all utility equipment. Rear wheels could snag a guy wire in a tight turn at the end of a field. When extended, tillage equipment could strike a nearby pole. An electric line could fall on equipment, injuring or killing farm workers, not to mention the cost of repairs. Power poles can be marked on machinery with GPS.

• Lower portable augers or elevators to the lowest possible level before moving or transporting, and use care when raising them.

• Maintain adequate clearance between an electrical line and the top of any equipment. Don't guess; know the height of the lines and the height of your equipment, including antennas.

• Steer clear of power lines, guy wires, junction boxes and pad-mount transformers that may be along the edges of fields, in farmyards and at grain-handling sites.

• Never build storage bins near overhead electrical lines.

• Note what might be in the ground. Before tilling an unfamiliar field or doing any excavating (to install drain tile, for instance), use One Call to locate buried utilities. The national number to call is 811.

If farmers — or anyone — is in a vehicle or equipment that's contacted an electrical source, remain put until help arrives, Overland said.

"But if you're in danger of fire or explosion, jump with both feet together and shuffle away," he continued. "Do not allow contact with the vehicle or equipment and the ground at the same time."

He advised farmers to make sure electrical sources are no longer a threat before helping a victim. Because electrical shock injuries may not be immediately apparent, even victims who don't appear to be injured should seek medical advice.

Electrical outages caused by mishandled farm machinery can pose a threat not just to farmers, but to others who depend on electricity.

"We want everyone to safely return home each night," said Overland.

Agriculture transportation handbook reprinted

Farmers can get free copies of a handbook containing state and federal laws, rules and exemptions for transporting agricultural goods on highways.

It was reprinted by the Minnesota Farm Bureau Foundation, the Minnesota Soybean Research and Promotion Council and Minnesota State Patrol Commercial Vehicle Inspectors.

"The Agriculture Transportation Handbook is a valuable resource for Minnesota's farmers and ranchers," said Minnesota Farm Bureau President Kevin Paap. "Understanding state and federal transportation laws and regulations help to ensure safe transportation of agricultural goods."

For a copy, contact Rachael Peterson at 651-768-2151 or info@fbmn.org, or visit www.fbmn.org, and under Programs click on "Ag Transportation Handbook."