16 Mar The importance of maintaining your agricultural electrical installations
Over the decades, electronic farm equipment or installations have become crucial elements of the modern agricultural environment. After all, with the right electrical equipment, it’s easier for a farmer to complete daily tasks, simplify complex workloads, and ensure safety through efficient lighting.
Of course, as electricity in the agricultural sector becomes more widespread, it’s important for the people in this niche to follow basic health and safety rules. Farms are unique spaces that can encounter a wider range of electrical dangers than the average home, office, or workplace environment. As such, one of the most important things any agricultural expert can do to protect their livelihood is regularly maintain their installations.
Agricultural buildings are different from standard properties
According to some estimates, approximately 40 people are electrocuted on farms every year. In many cases, a better understanding of the hazards associated with agricultural electricity would have been all it took to prevent those injuries.
If you’ve ever visited an agricultural building, you’ll know that they can be very different to a standard domestic or commercial structure. Often, the inside and outside elements blend together, leading to a lot of water exposure poor grounding for electrical components, and even exposed the wiring.
Interestingly, issues with electrical maintenance are one of the factors that have transformed farming into one of the most dangerous professions in the UK. After all, aside from dealing with unpredictable animals and large machinery, electrical fires and shocks are a constant risk for the average farmer.
Following local and national regulations
Agricultural experts need to invest in electrical maintenance to protect themselves and their property from damage. Electricity is a dangerous thing and it shouldn’t be underestimated. However, there’s also another reason while electrical maintenance is crucial for any farmer or farm organisation. Agricultural buildings throughout the UK are held to strict standards when it comes to health and safety.
According to the regulations of the UK Agricultural Wiring body, anyone who owns a farm-based facility must adhere to certain standards to ensure that their building is “up to code” and therefore safe for operation. If an agricultural facility doesn’t meet these standards, then its insurance could be invalidated, and the business may be shut down. Some of the most well-known rules include:
· Levels of separated extra-low voltage must be maintained at a reasonable level – often no higher than 25 volts.
· Agricultural wiring systems must be protected by an RCD (residual current devices) with an operating current that’s no greater than 500 mA. A 300-mA rating is the most common.
· All socket outlets must be protected with operating currents no greater than 30 mA.
· Wiring systems must be protected at a rate of IP44, which means that they’re situated away from splashing water, and the insulation must be able to withstand around 500 volts for a period of at least one minute.
Avoiding the hazards of electricity in harsh agricultural environments
Most agricultural facilities are complex environments that need special attention when it comes to maintaining and installing electrical systems. Threats to an electrical system can come from a host of different sources, ranging all the way from the vapors from animal waste, to high humidity from milking facilities.
The connections between the indoor and outdoor world can lead to increased moisture within an agricultural facility, and livestock may cause physical damage to light fixtures, wiring, and many other components.
Aside from helping farmers to meet their legal obligations regarding the safety and security of their space, and the protection of themselves, their employees and their customers or visitors, regular electrical maintenance can also help to save money in the long-term. The more you look after your farm equipment, the more you can avoid costly breakdowns that might but the business on hold, as well as disputes with insurance companies that make it harder to access cash to repair damages.
Protecting the farm with regular electrical inspections
Inspections are often the first step in an agricultural electrical maintenance plan. Professional teams can help to test farm equipment and wiring and offer insights into any components that may need to be repaired or replaced. Some popular services offered in the agricultural space often include:
· Appliance and component testing/repair
· Security lighting installation
· Periodic condition reports
· Farm equipment maintenance
According to the Electricity at Work act that was commissioned in 1989, all agricultural business owners are a “duty holder” in the eyes of the law. This means that they’re responsible for maintaining the electrical aspects of their workplace, and the equipment to ensure that it’s safe for other people to use.