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Hispanic Male Farm Laborer Electrocuted in Potato Field

Michigan Case Report: 10MI069

The following report is the product of our Cooperative State partner and is presented here in its original unedited form from the state. The findings and conclusions in this report are those of the individual Cooperative State partner and do not necessarily reflect the views or policy of the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health.


In the summer of 2010, a Hispanic male farm laborer in his 20s was electrocuted in a potato field when he touched the energized cross-brace of an operational self-propelled irrigation system while pulling free growing corn. He was standing in pooled water. One of his two coworkers heard the decedent yell. The coworker looked back and saw the decedent leaning with his left arm on the tower cross brace between the tires. The decedent then fell to the ground. The coworkers called their supervisor at the farm. The farm office called for emergency response and turned the irrigation system off. The decedent was declared dead at the scene. After the incident, the irrigation unit and wiring were examined by multiple firms. The system could not be restarted for inspection. The investigation found that the irrigation system was properly grounded and that underground wires supplying power were “burned off” in four places, thought to be consistent with a lightning strike. A definitive determination could not be made as to how the electrocution occurred.

Hispanic Male Farm Laborer Electrocuted in Potato Field [PDF 407 KB]