enforce safety procedures and training at your feed mill
Every summer, the tragic reports of commercial and on-farm grain
entrapment deaths start rolling in and don’t end until the winter. Unfortunately,
these incidents are preventable. Truly, the argument “I’ve been doing this for
30 years” doesn’t hold up when risky behavior stacks the odds against you.
While all of the trade associations and publications have
touched on this topic more than a few times, it doesn’t hurt to revisit this
discussion every so often.
According to the U.S. Department of Labor, it takes less
than 60 seconds to become completely submerged in flowing grain. Death can come
quickly, either through asphyxiation or by being crushed under the weight of
the grain, which can reach more than 1,300 pounds within seconds.
Grain elevators, fresh off the confusion of the U.S. Occupational
Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) zero-entry
guidance, are well aware of the danger – and potential penalties – of unsafe
grain bin interactions. However, I wonder how much many of those best practices
make it into the day-to-day mindset of those working with on-farm storage and,
even to some extent, at feed mills.
Here’s a quick refresher of OSHA’s best
practices for preventing grain entrapment:
Keep your grain
In addition to keeping mycotoxins in check, properly dried and maintained grains prevent bridging, crusting and accumulation in storage bins and silos.
Implement the buddy
Don’t work near stored grain alone. Have someone nearby and
keep in constant communications with them. Also, make sure a staff is trained
on how to act if faced with an accident.
Dedication to the
practice of lock-out/tag-out
Ensure that there isn’t a chance for the equipment to dislodge grain while an employee is in the bin – de-energize the auger and all equipment if you are entering
the bin. Grain movement in or out of the bin can produce a suctioning
Stay clear of precarious grain
Do not walk on or under bridged grain or
near where it may have built up along the side. Do not try to dislodge it from
an unsafe location.
Invest in the proper
equipment – and use it
Employees entering the bin should be connected to a body
harness. If an incident occurs, this is the first line in ensuing the victim
does not get lost or descend deeper into the grain. Also, consider investing in
rescue equipment, such as a rescue tube or cofferdam.
While companies may have proper training and protocols in
place, it helps to revisit the discussion not only with new hires, but with all
employees with some frequency.