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Farmhand electrocuted when elevated auger hits overhead power lines

Date of incident: May 2013
Notice of incident number: 2013160670092
Employer: Dairy farm

Incident summary
A farmhand and his employer were moving a rubber-tire-mounted portable grain auger to a location adjacent to 14.4-kilovolt power lines. The portable auger was 41 feet (12.5 metres) long. The farmhand was holding the input end of the grain auger and the employer was pushing on the frame as they moved the auger with its high output end in front. While they moved the auger into position, the high end was put between the neutral conductor and the primary conductor of the overhead power lines. As the farmhand began to set the input end on the ground, the elevated output end of the auger made contact with the energized 14.4-kilovolt conductor. An electric arc passed from the conductor to the high end of the auger, through the tires and the farmhand, to ground. The farmhand was electrocuted.

Investigation conclusions
  • Elevated end of auger made contact with conductor: The farmhand was electrocuted when the portable grain auger he was moving made contact with a 14.4-kilovolt conductor. The auger was 41 feet (12.5 metres) long, and when the low end was on the ground, the elevated end was about 25 feet (7.6 metres) above grade.
Underlying factors
  • Inadequate training and supervision: The employer did not adequately ensure the farmhand's safety through training and supervision.
  • Failure to identify workplace hazard: The employer failed to identify the potential for the portable grain auger to come into contact with the 14.4-kilovolt conductor when moving the auger in the vicinity of the power lines.
  • Farmhand was not familiar with workplace hazards: The farmhand was not officially oriented to the site and was not given the information, instruction, and training required to prevent this incident. He was not aware of the requirement to keep the end of the auger at least 10 feet (3 metres) from overhead power lines.

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Publication Date: May 2013 Asset type: Incident Investigation Report Summary NI number: 2013160670092