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‘Look up and live’: SaskPower kicks off farm safety campaign

Warm and dry weather is needed for many Saskatchewan farmers as seeding of the 2017 crop nearly one-third complete.
There were 312 incidents of farm equipment coming into contact with power lines during 2018, SaskPower said, resulting in three deaths. File / Global News

SaskPower wants farmers to “look up and live” as they head to the fields for spring seeding.

There were 312 incidents of farm equipment coming into contact with power lines during 2018, SaskPower said, resulting in three deaths.

SaskPower said it is a worrisome trend, as there were 40 more incidents last year than in 2017.

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“When it comes to farming, we’re seeing those numbers trend upwards,” said Kevin Schwing, SaskPower’s director of health and safety.

“One of the big factors is likely the growing size of farm machinery over the years.”

While power line contacts happen throughout the year, the majority of farm-related incidents occurs during seeding, SaskPower said, and typically involve seeders, sprayers, augers, or cultivators hitting a power line or pole.

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Schwing said there are a number of steps producers can take to reduce the risk of hitting a power line.

He said routes should be planned ahead, equipment lowered, and a spotter used to prevent contact.

READ MORE: Agricultural Safety Week in Saskatchewan aims at empowering farm families

Schwing also said farmers should take multiple breaks throughout the day, get plenty of rest before starting the workday, and drink plenty of water to help prevent fatigue.

“No matter what job you’re doing, whether working at a new construction site or your own farmyard, plan ahead and always take a moment to identify power lines,” Schwing said.

If equipment comes into contact with a power line and the operator is unable to drive away, SaskPower they should stay in the cab and contact them at 310-2220 or 911.

In the case of fire, SaskPower said operators should ensure there are no wires in the way, cross their arms and put their feet together, jump as far away as possible then hop at least 10 metres away.

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SaskPower kicked-off its annual safety campaign on Tuesday to raise awareness of the danger of power lines.

Along with radio spots and billboards, the campaign will feature a burned tractor display which will be set up at farm production events.

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