PG&E this week is urging farm workers to practice safe behavior when working and operating equipment around electric and gas lines as part of National Farm and Safety Health Week, which runs through Saturday (Sept. 21).
Overhead power lines and underground gas and electric lines often share space with farms and orchards. Serious and even fatal accidents can occur when workers and the equipment they operate make contact with these utility lines.
To help farm workers safely work around electric and gas facilities, PG&E offers six specific safety tips:
- Look up! Always look up for overhead power lines before beginning any activity.
- Follow 10-foot rule. Keep everything — you, the tools and materials you are handling, and the equipment you are operating — as far away as possible from all overhead power lines and never come closer than 10 feet. Any contact with wires by branches, pipe or equipment can be fatal. Higher voltage lines require greater distances. If you are uncertain of the voltage and clearance requirement for a power line, remain at least 20 feet away or call PG&E for assistance. (Watch a video on PG&E’s electric safety demo board.)
- Call 811 before you dig. Always know what’s below before digging in the ground or you run the risk of breaking an underground gas or electric line. Every three minutes nationwide, an underground utility line is damaged during a digging project. For all projects big and small, call 811 at least two business days before you dig to have professional locators mark the approximate locations of underground lines with flags, chalk-based spray paint or both. In addition, landowners with easements on their property may not recall the details of their land use agreement with PG&E. Property owners can contact PG&E’s land management department at 877-259-8314 and also view the general location of transmission pipelines on PG&E’s online map (www.pge.com/pipelinelocations).
- If you make any kind of contact with electric or gas lines, always call PG&E at 1-800-743-5000, and stay away from damaged equipment until help arrives. Even if you don’t bring a structure or wire down, you might have weakened the structure or created a hazardous situation.
- Irrigate with care. Do not spray water on overhead power lines, electrical equipment or electrical structures. Doing so can damage equipment, and a stream of water hitting a power line can create a path for electricity to travel back to you.
- Use caution when moving equipment. Never stand an irrigation pipe on its end near a power line. Always lower grain augers and other crop handling and tillage equipment before moving them anywhere near power lines. Never store materials directly underneath or adjacent to power lines. Beware of hooking guy wires when moving equipment.
PG&E regularly participates in farm shows throughout its service area, including the World Ag Expo in Tulare, to share these important safety messages with farmers and ranchers.