farm power lines

The following information is provided by Nationwide, the No. 1 farm and ranch insurer in the U.S.¹

Moving machinery and equipment like sprayers, combines and grain augers around a farmstead or on a roadway in the presence of power lines is common practice. Each year in the U.S., 62 farmers or farm workers are electrocuted. And in many of those cases, contact between machinery and an overhead power line or utility poll is the cause.

The news of a farmer’s electrocution inspired one man to found ShockAvoid, a provider of high-voltage proximity alarms to help farmers and crop protection applicators steer clear of dangerous electrical hazards. Committed to staying on the leading edge of new tools and technology to help farmers and ranchers succeed, Nationwide talked with Mark McLaren, ShockAvoid president and CEO, about how ShockAvoid helps equipment operators avoid electrical infrastructure and prevent electrocution

Nationwide: What is ShockAvoid and how does it work?
McLaren: The ShockAvoid SIGALARM system is a set of sensors that mount to farm equipment like sprayer booms that are most likely to come into contact with power lines. A control panel inside the cab alerts the operator when he or she is getting too close to a power line. We also have a wearable device that mounts to the brim of a cap and with a set of LED lights shows proximity to and direction from electrical power sources so the operator can steer clear. This helps mitigate the risk of electrocution.

Nationwide: Why did you start ShockAvoid?
McLaren: Too many people over the years were getting electrocuted and nobody was really talking about it. We looked at technology that had been around for a while in other industries and found a way to apply it to agriculture so we can help prevent these incidents. As equipment like sprayers and planters get bigger, the risk of electrocution only grows. A 120-foot sprayer boom can get tied up into a power line pretty easily.

Nationwide: What makes electricity so dangerous on farms and roadways?
McLaren: Every electrical utility, even the table lamp in your home, emits a field of energy around it. Large power lines put off a rather large field around them, and the closer you get to the source, the more powerful they get. To stay free of that field, you do not want to get within 15 feet of a power line. Getting any closer, you risk electrocution.

Nationwide: What are some of the unique challenges agriculture poses to this kind of technology?
McLaren: It’s a unique environment, with water and corrosive chemicals like herbicides and fertilizer that can damage components. So we had to go through a lot of testing to make it ag friendly. We also realized early on that it has to be an easy thing for an operator to use or it won’t get used at all. And we’ve made it easy to use for that reason.

Nationwide: How can a farmer get started with ShockAvoid or learn more about it?
McLaren: ShockAvoid systems are the next generation of electrocution risk mitigation for farm machinery and equipment operators. They’re currently being tested at locations around the central and midwestern U.S. and will be commercially available soon

Visit to learn more. And visit for more resources and expert tips on trending topics to help you run a successful business and maintain the safety of your operation.

[1]*A.M. Best Market Share Report 2021. Nationwide, the Nationwide N and Eagle, and Nationwide is on your side are service marks of Nationwide Mutual Insurance Company. © 2023 Nationwide.
Labor has always been an issue, mainly because we are a seasonal operation. So that's a challenge finding somebody who only wants to work three months out of a year, sometimes up to six months.
Mandy Way's avatar
Mandy Way

Way Farms

Farm Labor Resources
I appreciate the benefit of having a strong voice in my corner. The extras that are included in membership are wonderful, but I'm a member because of the positive impact to my local and state agricultural communities.
Ernie Welch's avatar
Ernie Welch

Van Wert County Farm Bureau

Strong communities
I see the value and need to be engaged in the community I live in, to be a part of the decision-making process and to volunteer with organizations that help make our community better.
Matt Aultman's avatar
Matt Aultman

Darke County Farm Bureau

Leadership development
The plan we are on is great. It’s comparable to my previous job's plan, and we are a sole proprietor.
Kevin Holy's avatar
Kevin Holy

Geauga County Farm Bureau

Ohio Farm Bureau Health Benefits Plan
We work terrifically with the Ashtabula County Farm Bureau, hosting at least one to two outreach town hall events every year to educate new farmers and existing farmers on traditional CAUV and woodlands.
David Thomas's avatar
David Thomas

Ashtabula County Auditor

CAUV: Past, present and future
Knowing that horticulture is under the agriculture umbrella and having Farm Bureau supporting horticulture like it does the rest of ag is very important.
Jared Hughes's avatar
Jared Hughes

Groovy Plants Ranch

Groovy Plants Ranch
If it wasn't for Farm Bureau, I personally, along with many others, would not have had the opportunity to meet with our representatives face to face in Washington.
Austin Heil's avatar
Austin Heil

Hardin County Farm Bureau

Washington, D.C. Leadership Experience
So many of the issues that OFBF and its members are advocating for are important to all Ohioans. I look at OFBF as an agricultural watchdog advocating for farmers and rural communities across Ohio.
Mary Smallsreed's avatar
Mary Smallsreed

Trumbull County Farm Bureau

Suggested Tags: