Harvest is a busy, fast-paced time of the year. Getting all the crops out of the field before inclement weather hits can be an all-out race to the finish. During this busy time, (and the rest of the year) it’s important to take safety precautions on the farm – especially when working in and around grain bins. You may not think twice about taking grain to the bins, but grain bins present many safety risks. Purdue University has recorded more than 800 flowing grain entrapments since 1964.¹ And, many “non-fatal” incidents are believed to go unreported. As you take your grain in this harvest, be sure your safety is top of mind. Read on for several grain bin safety tips you won’t want to miss.
Grain bin safety tips:
When working in or near grain bins, it’s a good idea to work with others. Be sure you can hear and see one another. Station an observer who is equipped to provide assistance and perform rescue operations outside the bin.
Training is key for working safely around grain bins. Many online and in-person farm safety training resources are available to help keep you and your employees safe. If you do need to enter a grain bin, de-energize and disconnect electrical and mechanical equipment (“lockout/tagout”), particularly grain-moving equipment, before entering. It’s also important to wear a dust mask and filter or respirator and a harness attached to a lifeline when working in a grain bin.² Prior to entering a grain bin, test the air to be sure there’s enough oxygen and no dangerous gases. And as stated above, do not enter without having others with the proper rescue training observing.³
Flowing grain can become very dangerous if precautions are not followed. It is never advised to enter a bin of flowing grain. Doing so can put you at risk of being pulled down with the grain. According to the nasdonline.org, “a flowing column of grain can entrap someone to their knees and waist in 3-5 seconds. Depending on the size and speed of the unloading auger, a person can be completely engulfed in less than 30 seconds, leading to suffocation.” Do not allow workers to walk down grain to make it flow.
The size and presence of grain bins can often intrigue children’s curiosity, but it’s definitely not a safe place for them to play. It’s important to talk with your kids about safety precautions on the farm, including being careful around loose grain and never going inside a grain bin. Additionally, children need to be careful around grain wagons and trucks when unloading grain.
Risks come with working on the farm, but taking precautions can help you and others stay safe. If you’re a farm owner, be sure your farm or ranch operation has the coverage you need to protect what matters most. Talk to your Farm Bureau agent to learn more about our wealth of offerings to help protect your livelihood.