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Safety Tips | Electrical safety

Irrigation equipment: Don't be shocked

July 1, 2009

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The use of farm irrigation systems brings with it an increased risk of electrocution. Safe Electricity, a public awareness campaign created by the Urbana, IL-based Energy Education Council, urges workers to know and follow proper safety precautions to avoid electrical injuries when operating and handling watering systems.

Follow these rules to safely operate irrigation machinery systems:

  • Make sure the irrigation system wiring is properly grounded. Have a qualified electrician check the pump and motor wiring before each irrigation season.
  • Water and metal are ideal electrical conductors. Position irrigation pipes at least 15 feet from power lines. Keep water jet streams from spraying onto electrical lines.
  • When not in use, store irrigation pipes in an open area away from power lines and other electrical equipment.
  • Install lightning arresters to protect equipment, and stay away from the machine during any lightning activity. The pipe pedestals in an open field make perfect lightning receptors, and the water-filled piping can carry an electrical current for long distances.
  • When assembling or transporting irrigation equipment, try to keep pipes parallel to the ground and move them horizontally rather than vertically to avoid contact with overhead power lines.
  • Repeated circuit breaker trips or blown fuses during operation could indicate a serious electrical hazard and should be professionally checked and corrected.
  • When servicing the machine, always shut off and lock out the master electric control switch.

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