Grain bin entrapments are preventable if we follow the right procedures for entering a confined space such as a grain bin. U.S. grain stocks are at an all-time high, we are producing, moving, and storing more grain than anytime in US history. It stands to reason engulfments, injuries and fatalities may rise if we don’t make a constant commitment to basic safety measures.
Develop a plan and make a commitment to abide by the safety standards you put in place.
Here are some rules and considerations in making your plan for year around operation.
- No one under 18 is allowed in a confined space such as a grain bin.
- Never enter a bin of flowing grain.
- Lockout and tagout power on all augers or mechanisms, (loading or unloading mechanisms). This stops any flowing grain and prevents anyone from unknowingly starting the equipment while someone is working inside the bin.
- Sample the air quality inside the bin to assure there is enough oxygen to breathe while in the bin.
- Wear a safety harness and be tied off to the outside of the bin. Be certain that anything you tie off to is strong enough to support your weight and then some.
- Never enter a confined space such as a grain bin alone. Always have another person monitor from the outside of the bin. The harnessed person inside the bin and one person outside the bin monitoring the rope and in constant contact with the inside person. A third person would be even better as they can get help while the other is attending to the harnessed person.
- Don’t assume the person outside the bin can hear you. Equipment noise may block your call for help. Consider 2 way radios to aid communication. Test to see if radios or cell phones will work while you’re in the bin.
- Always be cautious of grain that has gone out of condition. Even small amounts of spoiled grain can produce millions of tiny mold spores that can be airborne when disturbed.
- Always wear a respirator capable of filtering fine dust particles to avoid unnecessary exposure to mold dust.
- Grain bins are off limits to children and unauthorized personnel. Treat grain bins and grain handling facilities as hazardous areas, open only to trained personnel. This is an area children should never play. Though children love the farm and spend time with family members, it is our responsibilty to say 'no' at times. Equipment around grain bins is very large and loud which makes it diffucult to see and hear children. They should not be riding in, climbing on or playing around equipment especially around grain bins.
Develop a grain handling plan that includes standard operating procedures, out of condition grain situations and emergency response.