Clemson Agricultural Safety

Irrigation and Center Pivot Safety – March 2024

Irrigation and Center Pivot Safety

Irrigation and center pivots provide much needed water to crops all across the state. While these systems have many benefits, like everything else, they are surrounded by various hazards. A main concern pertaining to center pivots is they have a high chance of being struck by lightning and becoming energized. Below are some of the many hazards that surround these systems.


  • Always stay away from self-propelled irrigation machines during storms. These are large metal objects and often attract lightning due to their size, construction, and their height in the field.

Irrigation Hazards Spraying Water on Powerlines

  • Do not touch irrigation systems while they are spraying water on powerlines.
  • Immediately alert the power company of the water on the line.
  • Distance, stream size, water conductivity, voltage, and wind can all affect the amount of current that is being carried through the water.


  • Do not approach or work around unguarded power take-off shafts, belts, and other power transmitting devices.
  • Alert others in the vicinity and the owners or operators to the hazard.
  • Avoid wearing loose clothing or leaving long hair down near rotating equipment.


  • There may be hand/footholds for a person to climb onto the machine, but it should not replace a ladder or other lift device. This metal structure does not meet the requirements of a safe ladder.
  • Ensure that ladders are properly anchored and angled before scaling the ladder.

Run Overs

  • Keep vehicles and other equipment out of the paths of self-propelled irrigation machines.
  • Many of these machines have excellent traction and can easily climb over and crush large objects that are in their paths.

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