By Bruce Loughner CSP, BWC Technical Safety Advisor
I recall hearing about a grain bin accident that occurred years ago, but it has stuck with me ever since. Three young boys entered a grain bin with the task of breaking up the corn inside to keep it flowing.
In the end, only one boy came out alive. In an ordeal that lasted 13 hours, the survivor could only watch as the grain engulfed the other two young men.
Tragedies like this are entirely preventable with proper training, equipment, and knowledge. That’s why we’re joining the Occupational Safety and Health Administration and other industry organizations to raise awareness during Stand Up for Grain Safety Week, March 25-29. This program focuses on preventing grain bin fatalities and injuries in Ohio and across the U.S.
Grain bins are deadly. Below are steps you can take to save lives.
- Learn the hazards of grain bins – When I think of grain bin hazards, the first thing that comes to mind is engulfment. However, there are several other hazards associated with grain bins, such as:
- Toxic atmospheres.
- Combustible environments.
- Excessive noise.
- Fall hazards (inside and outside the bin).
- Mechanical equipment hazards (e.g., augers and sweeps).
- Heat stress and confined space risks.
- Plan the work – Can workers do a task without entering the bin? Planning to keep employees out of bins and preventing exposures is the best plan. Farmers need proper training to identify hazards. Automated systems (e.g., moisture and temperature sensors, bin vibrators, remote-controlled sweep augers, etc.) can help employees perform required tasks from outside the bin. Incorporating these systems and other new innovations in the work plan is essential.
- Act on implementing the safety plan – Make sure to train all workers and review the associated hazards by conducting a job hazard analysis for each specific task. Gather and use the necessary personal protective equipment. If entering a grain storage facility, follow the confined space requirements and include a rescue procedure.
At BWC, we’ve also developed a brochure with additional information about grain bin hazards and resources you can use to protect employees working in and around grain bins.
Please join us in spreading the word about the importance of grain bin safety this week and all year long.