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Ameren Illinois reminds farmers to beware of dangers in the field

In recognition of National Farm Safety and Health Week, Sept. 20-26, Ameren Illinois is joining with Safe Electricity to share tips on how farmers can avoid dangers while in the field.

"This is the time of year when many farmers are working longer hours and spending additional time in the field, which can lead to potentially dangerous situations if they’re not aware of the hazards,” said Karen Boulanger, director of Safety for Ameren Illinois. “National Farm Safety and Health Week is a good time to remind farm workers to look up and look out while working outdoors."

Direct contact with electrical lines is a hazard that is easily overlooked while doing farm work. Every year, 62 farm workers are electrocuted in the United States, according to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. The most common cause of electrocutions are portable grain augers, oversized wagons, large combines, and other tall equipment that come into contact with overhead power lines.

“There are steps farmers can take to help keep themselves and workers safe when working around electricity,” said Kyla Kruse, communications director of the Energy Education Council and its Safe Electricity program. “With the use of large equipment, farmers can easily find themselves in dangerous proximity to overhead lines. Being aware of the location of those wires can help reduce accidents.”

Safe Electricity provides the following tips to help keep farm workers safe:

  • Beware of the dangers of working with tall equipment near power lines. These lines are most often on the edge of fields and roadways, where equipment may pass getting to the field and where equipment may be parked.
  • Follow safe work practices at all times even if it takes a little extra time. To prevent accidents, start by making sure everyone knows to maintain a minimum 10-foot clearance from power lines - in all directions, at all times. Simply coming too close to a power line is dangerous as electricity can arc to conducting material.
  • If a power line is low, contact Ameren Illinois or the local electric utility. Don’t try to fix them. Electric distribution lines along rural roads can carry thousands of volts and only professional utility line workers are qualified to make any adjustments.
  • Steer clear of power poles. Unintended contact can weaken the integrity of the pole, increasing the potential for contact with low hanging or downed lines.
  • If equipment does come into contact with power lines, stay in the cab and call for help. Don't try to maneuver out of the power lines. Doing so could make an incredibly dangerous situation worse. Warn others who may be nearby to stay away and wait until the electric utility arrives to cut off the power.
  • For more tips on electric safety, visit SafeElectricity.org.

Farmers are also reminded to be mindful of natural gas and other underground facilities that may be located on their property. Under state law, before digging or installing new facilities, properties owners are required to call JULIE (Joint Utility Location Information for Excavators) by dialing 811 at least two working days before the start of any project. This free service could help prevent an interruption to service or avoid a more serious situation.

About Ameren Illinois
Ameren Illinois delivers energy to 1.2 million electric and 816,000 natural gas customers in downstate Illinois, and our mission is to power the quality of life. Our service territory covers more than 1,200 communities and 43,700 square miles. For more information, visit AmerenIllinois.com. Follow us on Twitter @AmerenIllinois and Facebook.

About the Energy Education Council
The Energy Education Council is a 501(c 3) non-profit organization dedicated to promoting electrical safety and energy efficiency. Established in 1952, the Council is headquartered within University of Illinois Extension and serves as a forum for diverse utility and energy organizations to collaborate on the mutually vital issues of efficiency and safety. Learn more at EnergyEdCouncil.org and SafeElectricity.org.