Grain bin safety is always a concern on the farm, no matter your operation’s size. Based on Purdue University’s 2020 Summary of U.S. Agricultural Confined Space-Related Injuries and Fatalities, there were 35 cases of grain entrapment reported nationwide in 2020, with more than half of those causing fatalities.
Here are 10 things to remember as you work in and around grain bins.
- Training - Make sure all employees are trained in grain bin safety and the dangers of grain handling.
- Planning - Have an emergency rescue plan and make it part of your employee safety training. You want everyone to be clear on what to do if the worst case scenario happens.
- Ladders - Make sure ladders are installed inside bins as an emergency exit. Bright stripes around the ladder make it easier to find in a dusty bin.
- Breathing protection - When working inside a bin, be sure to wear a dust mask or respirator. Grain fines and other small particles can make it difficult to breathe.
- Collapse prevention - Break up crusted grain from outside the bin. Grain crusted vertically can collapse on the person trying to dislodge it. Bridged grain can collapse under a person on top of it.
- Harness safety - Utilize a harness attached to an anchored lifeline. These systems are designed to limit the distance one can fall in the bin set up.
- Equipment operations - Always stay out of the grain bin if the unload equipment is running.
- Accessing grain bins - If grain starts to flow, start walking and stay near the outer edge of the bin. Get to the ladder as quickly as possible. If you can’t get out, keep walking until the bin empties or the grain movement stops.
- Work in teams - If you have to enter a grain bin, have one or two people available to help you should you become trapped. With so much loud equipment on the farm, don’t assume someone outside a bin will hear you if you yell. NEVER enter a grain bin alone.
- Know when and how to call for help - NEVER TRY TO RESCUE SOMEONE BY GOING INTO THE GRAIN BIN AFTER THEM ALONE. Call 911 and start working through your rescue plan immediately.
1 2020 Summary of U.S. Agricultural Confined Space-Related Injuries and Fatalities, https://extension.entm.purdue.edu/grainsafety/pdf/2020_Confined_Space_Summary.pdf