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Hispanic male farm laborer electrocuted in potato field.

Michigan State University
Morgantown, WV: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Public Health Service, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, FACE 10MI069, 2012 Dec; :1-12
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. Contributing factors: 1) Age of underground wiring; 2) Direct burial of wiring without the protection of conduit to avoid damage to wiring insulation from stones and frost heaving; 3) Working in field while irrigation equipment operational; 4) Weather, including undetected electrical storm damage; and 5) Electrical inspection not performed. RECOMMENDATIONS: 1) Ensure irrigation system wiring and grounding is continuous and in accordance with the American Society of Agricultural Engineers Standard S362 and Article 675 of the National Electric Code. 2) Farmers should implement an electrical inspection program for irrigation equipment at the beginning of each season that includes periodic inspections of all system components throughout the growing season. This inspection should include checking the integrity of the underground wiring associated with the system.
Region-5; Accident-analysis; Accident-potential; Accident-prevention; Accidents; Injuries; Injury-prevention; Traumatic-injuries; Agriculture; Agricultural-workers; Agricultural-machinery; Farmers; Racial-factors; Electrocutions; Electrical-transmission; Electrical-conductivity; Machine-operation; Electrical-hazards; Electrical-systems; Insulation-materials; Safety-monitoring; Safety-programs; Injury-prevention; Protective-measures; Regulations; Author Keywords: Central pivot irrigation; electrocution; Hispanic; wet conditions; farm field; Agriculture
Publication Date
Document Type
Field Studies; Fatality Assessment and Control Evaluation
Funding Type
Cooperative Agreement
Fiscal Year
NTIS Accession No.
NTIS Price
Identifying No.
FACE-10MI069; Cooperative-Agreement-Number-U60-OH-008466
SIC Code
Source Name
National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health
Performing Organization
Michigan State University
Page last reviewed: December 17, 2021
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division