As far as Kansas Electric Cooperatives are concerned, we can never remind our readers too often or too many times to pay attention around electrical poles and lines while planting, spraying, harvesting — basically while performing any farm and home chores where man and machinery could collide with hazardous objects, including overhead power lines. When working in the field and backyard, use a spotter.
Who is your spotter — the person assigned to watch for clearance distances and hazardous objects when you are moving machinery and equipment for any type of task?
Farm and ranch equipment gets bigger and more sophisticated, yet no matter the bells and whistles of the equipment using a spotter provides a critical element to farming, construction and home safety.
A spotter can alert equipment operators to any potential hazards that could interfere with farm and other heavy equipment and vehicles — power lines and poles, buildings and other structures, and other people who might not be paying attention.
The Important Role of the Spotter
The spotter should be qualified to take on the responsibility and not asked to spot simply because he or she isn’t busy that day.
The spotter should be trained to identify the minimum clearance distance from objects and hazards — 20 feet for overhead power lines.
Everyone, especially the spotter, must know safety protocols for accidental contact with power lines and be able to communicate with the equipment operator the proper response.
The role of a spotter should get the respect it deserves and that person should be trained to handle the role successfully. Think about this: If you’re not willing to allow someone to operate an expensive piece of equipment without proper training, why allow someone to be in charge of protecting that equipment and its operator without providing adequate instruction?
The spotter and equipment operators should participate in pre-event safety planning, mapping out a safe route to complete the task at hand, identifying potential hazards to avoid.
Standard hand signals should also be practiced and understood by everyone involved in the work that day, even if two-way radios are in use.
The spotter must pay attention to the task at hand. A spotter can’t successfully perform the job while talking on the phone or texting, chatting with others on-site or trying to do any other task.
The spotter should wear highly visible clothing so equipment operators and others know who they are to pay attention to. Outfit the spotter with a brightly colored vest or shirt that stands out from everyone else on the site.
Anyone operating the equipment should stop if the spotter is not in full view or if the operator is unclear of the spotters instructions.
Spotters must be aware of their surroundings at all times and never cross the path of a vehicle or moving equipment. They must always be aware of any trip or fall hazards.
The spotter must be willing to stop work progress to ensure the safety of everyone.
Resources: OSHA, National Safety Council, the CDC, Safety Management Group and Incident Prevention Magazine.