Common Electrocution Injury Scenarios in Agriculture

Electrocution injury occurs when a worker comes into contact with an electrically energized source. Risk for electrocution rises when electrical networks and equipment are improperly designed, built, or maintained. Poorly grounded machinery and tools are a common source of electrocution. Workers come into physical contact with the faulty machinery, which carries an electric charge that flows to the ground through the worker's body. Risk is heightened for work in standing water, such as around pumps or on damp ground.

A second common scenario involves accidental contact with power lines. Overhead power lines typically carry between several hundred to several thousand volts, which is stepped down through transformers at various stages to bring either 220 or 110 volts to the point of use. Accidental contact can occur when lines are insufficiently elevated above ground or drop due to wind, storms, or inadequate maintenance. Electrocution injuries also have occurred when workers accidentally brush against the lines with metal ladders, pipes, or other tools. Damaged or weathered line insulation may prove inadequate to prevent current flow through the metal tool and ultimately to the ground through the worker's body. Metal booms and cranes may also contact lines and electrocute workers who come in to contact with them. Grain augers, when moved in an elevated position, may be able to contact high-voltage lines (6,9).

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