Safety Corner

November: Stray Voltage in a Heat Wave

Walt Moore, president and general manager of Walmoore Holsteins, Inc. near Chatham, Pa, shared a loss his farm experienced due to a heat wave during the summer of 2016. Severe heat and humidity in September caused the main electrical wires in the milking parlor to melt, in turn touching a neutral wire electrifying all metal in the milking parlor. As cows entered the parlor at milking time, the cows and workers began experiencing shocks and two cattle were lost. The situation was resolved when employees turned off the main electric lines.

Moore advises dairy farmers to train family and employees to recognize stray voltage, evaluate the severity of the situation and know where the electric service panel is located in case service needs to be cut off. The U.S. Department of Agriculture advises that, “Persons without special training should never attempt investigation of electrical distribution or farm electrical systems. If an electrical shock can actually be felt or if animals are knocked down, a possible hazard to life exists. The device or electric circuit responsible for the shock should be disconnected by unplugging the device or by de-energizing the circuit at the service panel. The situation should be examined by an electrical professional as soon as possible.”