8 ways to ensure safety in and around grain bins
If safety guidelines are not carefully followed, grain storage bin entry can be very dangerous and pose serious suffocation hazards – a leading cause of fatalities in the agriculture industry.
As the agriculture industry continues to introduce significant technological advances that help farmers cover more acreage, produce more crops, and harvest their land quicker than ever, Kentucky’s farmers have enjoyed increased grain yields over the last few decades. Accordingly, these efficiencies have also brought about a rise in the necessity of on-farm grain bins. Having these structures on site is often advantageous in the management of selling harvested crops at the right time, but, as grain bins increase in popularity, so should awareness about safe practices when working in and around these structures.
If safety guidelines are not carefully followed, grain storage bin entry can be very dangerous and pose serious suffocation hazards – a leading cause of fatalities in the agriculture industry. Ensuring farm families are properly educated about grain bin entrapments can help decrease the number of accidents on Kentucky farms.
- Before entering a grain storage bin, it is important to review, understand and follow these tips provided by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration:
- Disengage all mechanical, electrical, hydraulic, and pneumatic equipment that presents a danger, particularly grain-moving equipment.
- Prohibit “walking down grain” and similar practices where a person may walk on top of the grain to make it flow within or out of the storage structure.
- Do not allow entry into bins or silos underneath a bridging condition (i.e., when a build-up of grain products on the silo or bin sides could fall and bury an individual.)
- Always wear a body harness with a lifeline or a boatswain’s chair and ensure that it is secured prior to entering the bin.
- Outfit the grain bin with rescue equipment and/or fall protection systems such as a winch system or a rescue tube, often referred to as a “turtle tube” among farmers.
- Station an observer outside of the bin or silo. This observer should communicate with the person inside of the bin and be equipped and ready to aid and perform rescue operations should an emergency arise.
- Implement a preventative maintenance program with regularly scheduled inspections for all existing mechanical and safety control equipment.
- When it comes to grain bin safety, it is imperative to think quickly! Seconds matter. Grain acts like quicksand and can trap a person in four to five seconds and completely bury them in just 22 seconds.
Anyone working in or around grain bins should follow and share these tips to encourage safe behaviors and prevent unnecessary injuries or deaths from occurring. Please join us in promoting safety tips like these to our farm families and communities!
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