Irrigation systems move and deliver water that is vital for the survival of agricultural crops. Moving equipment, electricity, water pressure, pumping systems, and field conditions related to irrigation and agriculture require workers to follow safety protocols.

To be safe, read the operator’s manual and receive training for each irrigation system and specific equipment components that you use and maintain. Follow all of the manufacturer’s suggestions for inspection, maintenance, and repair schedules and procedures. Some general safety guidelines include:

  • Reading and understand the dangerwarning, and caution signs on all equipment parts.
  • Wearing personal protective equipment (PPE) such as sturdy boots, coveralls, gloves, and a hardhat. Add hearing and eye protection if needed.

Properly inspect and maintain the irrigation systems. Make sure to report and repair malfunctioning systems. Look for the following:

  • Low tire pressure and damage.
  • Signs of sprinkler blockage or breakage.
  • Problems with end gun flows that maintain appropriate water pressure in the system.
  • Problems with debris in systems. If necessary, flush the system to remove debris.
  • Deficient levels of lubrication.
  • Water or fluid leaks.
  • Barriers in the field that could halt or hinder system movement.

Follow proper lockout/tagout practices to control unsafe startup or power to the irrigation equipment each time you perform maintenance or repair. Remember that equipment can be controlled locally, remotely, or on timers. Never assume that equipment that is turned off will stay off. Pay attention to potential hazards when applying lockout tagout:

  • Fix the main machine control to the off position.
  • Control mechanical hazards such as center drives, overhead hazards, tires, rotation, and engines.
  • Control power to the motor, tower boxes, and wiring.
  • Control water systems to the sprinklers, end guns, pumps, and pipeline.

Use extreme caution around overhead power lines when installing, maintaining, and using irrigation systems. Accidental contact of water spray, the piping, or the power units with electrical lines can cause severe electric shock injuries and death. Things to consider are:

  • Make sure all equipment is properly wired and grounded.
  • Know where power lines are located and their heights.
  • Know the heights of the towers and the heights and lengths of the piping system.
  • Maintain proper clearances from power lines at all times.
  • When clearing pipes, keep them horizontal, don’t lift them vertical where they could meet with power lines.
  • Note that extreme weather can move your equipment and power lines, so always survey the work area after a storm.
  • If power lines do meet with any part of the system, contact the power company immediately and evacuate the area.

Some final safety precautions around field irrigation systems can keep you safe on the job:

  • Keep the system’s traveling path free of objects and people at all times.
  • Never climb on the machine; use proper ladders for access.
  • Walk behind or in the opposite direction of the system to prevent a collision.
  • Know where your hands and feet are at all times to avoid caught and crush injuries near the moving equipment.
  • Practice field safety when working in high temperatures outdoors
  • Minimize exposure to the sun, insects, and cold.
  • Be CPR and First Aid certified and know your emergency procedures.
  • Use good body postures and lifting techniques to avoid strains and sprains.

Using these techniques will prevent injuries and perhaps save a life while using irrigation systems.