Zachary Short, 24 years old, grabbed a fire extinguisher and jumped over the trailer hitch on the tractor to respond to a fire started by the electrical arcing. He was thrown backward by the electrical force as he was trying to jump over the hitch, obviously making contact with some part of the trailer. A co-worker moved Short away from the grain cart using a plastic shovel.
Accidents like this one are a stark reminder of the danger of getting equipment too close to overhead power lines and the importance of being aware of one’s surroundings when doing work. A common risk of electrocution is equipment coming in contact with power lines.
Jim Flach’s accident is another reminder to always look up. In 2001, he parked his crop sprayer near power lines, not realizing that the sprayer had made contact with the lines above. He stepped out of the cab and was severely shocked. He died a few months later from that injury.
Before workers operate large equipment near overhead power lines, they should receive electrical safety training. Knowing how to prevent an electrical incident is key: OSHA’s recommendations include looking for overhead power lines and posting signs warning workers of the lines’ presence. People and equipment should stay ten feet away from the lines. The lines should be de-energized and grounded before working near them. Proper PPE should be worn as another layer of protection even when all other precautions are followed.