Talk safety with us at the Farm Science Review

By Erik Harden, BWC Public Information Officer

With nearly 78,000 farms producing $9.3 billion in revenue, Ohio is one of the top five states in the U.S. for agriculture.

This robust industry remains a critical component of Ohio’s economy and one of the state’s major industries for employment. It’s also high-hazard work with great potential for workplace injuries and, unfortunately, even fatalities.

With all of this in mind, our Division of Safety & Hygiene (DSH) is once again promoting its programs and services at the Farm Science Review – one of the premier agricultural trade and education shows in the nation. Hosted by The Ohio State University, the event starts today and runs through Thursday at the Molly Caren Agricultural Center in London, Ohio.

For the fourth consecutive year, DSH representatives will be available at our booth to speak with attendees about the free programs and services we offer to assist employers and workers in Ohio’s agribusiness.

For example, our industrial hygienists can help farms guard against environmental hazards, including chemicals, pesticides, fertilizers, dust, mold, and extreme noise and temperatures.

Our ergonomists can illustrate ways to cut down on hazards resulting from:

  • Manual materials handling.
  • Repetitive, hand-intensive work.
  • Poor workstation design.
  • Sedentary work.

Our safety consultants can help prevent common but costly injuries to protect the bottom line of Ohio’s agriculture businesses and their workers.

If you’re going to Farm Science Review this week, stop by and see us! We’re booth No. 32 in Building 513.

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‘Walking down grain’ is a deadly operation (Don’t do it)

Two workplace deaths in July heighten awareness for grain bin safety

By Bruce Loughner CSP, BWC Technical Safety Advisor

This is my second blog post on deadly grain bin accidents this year, and I hope it’s the last.

But as a safety professional for the state of Ohio, I feel obligated to spread the word on grain bin safety precautions following the tragic loss of two lives at a Toledo grain facility July 19.

I don’t know all the details surrounding the accident that claimed the lives of a 29-year-old Rossford man and a 56-year-old Perrysburg man that hot Friday afternoon, but according to news reports the two men died when they climbed inside a grain silo to break up compacted grain and unplug a blocked hole. This is a hazardous process known as “walking down grain.” The two were engulfed in grain and suffocated.

OSHA prohibits “walking down grain” and similar practices in flat storage structures. Regulations also limit employee access, entry and work in any grain storage bin. When permitted, the standards require strict hazard control measures and training for all employees assigned tasks that require bin entry. OSHA has a variety of resources that explain the deadly hazards associated with grain handling operations.

In a March 2019 BWC Blog post, I spoke about a grain bin accident that occurred years ago when three young boys entered a grain bin to break up stored corn so that it could flow. The two employees in Toledo were performing a similar task.

News reports indicate emergency responders had early contact with one of the trapped workers. Unfortunately, the rescue turned into a recovery operation as time passed and the grain suffocated the two employees. The hazards are well known, and environmental conditions are ripe for grain to bridge and develop air pockets.

Two other recent grain-bin deaths in Ohio involved a 20-year-old worker being caught in an auger and a 68-year-old farmer being engulfed in a bin. Each death was preventable. New innovations in equipment with proper training and knowledge can be used to complete the task without ever entering the grain bins.  All grain handling deaths and serious injuries can be prevented.

As the first line of defense, BWC encourages eliminating hazards through engineering control measures, including mechanical raking devices, proper ventilation for dust and mold control, and the use of vibrating mechanisms to break up bridged grain.

Prior to entering a grain bin, take the following precautions:

  • Conduct a job safety analysis to identify specific hazards and to determine the best course of action for eliminating or controlling the hazards using engineering controls, safe work practices, and personal protective equipment.
  • Treat the grain bin as a confined space and develop specific procedures for determining if it is safe to enter, how to enter, how to work safely in the space, and how to get out safely in the event of an emergency. Develop a communication and rescue plan.
  • Develop a program and procedures for lock out and tag out of all energy sources. Never allow employees to enter the grain bin while the auger is activated or when it could become activated.
  • Provide the appropriate personal protective equipment (e.g. respirator, safety harness, and lifeline) depending on the hazards that might be encountered. Train employees how to use it properly.
  • Contact the local fire department for assistance in developing rescue procedures. Practice self-rescue and other rescue procedures.
  • Train and educate employees engaged in grain bin operations by emphasizing hazards and safety procedures.

Whether you operate a small farm or a large handling and storage operation for exporting grain, a BWC consultant can assist you.

We provide on-site consultations to assess hazards, identify engineering and other control measures, and make you aware of federal and state requirements.

In addition, we can help with the development of site-specific safety procedures, training and educational resources to address the deadly hazards associated with grain bin operations.

Check out this BWC brochure for additional information. For more on the July 19 tragedy, read this story from the Toledo Blade.

Learn, plan, and act to prevent grain bin tragedies

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.

  1. 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.
  1. 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. 
  1. 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.

Protecting Ohioans on National Ag Day and every day

By Erik Harden, BWC Public Information Officer

Today is the first day of spring! And, fittingly, it’s also National Ag Day in the U.S.

The Agriculture Council of America started National Ag Day 45 years ago to recognize and celebrate the contribution of agriculture in our everyday lives.

National Ag Day also encourages all of us to:

  • Understand how food and fiber products are produced;
  • Value the vital role of agriculture in maintaining a strong economy;
  • Appreciate the role agriculture plays in providing safe, abundant and affordable products.

With 74,500 farms in 2016* and nearly 14 million acres of farmland in Ohio**, agriculture remains one of our state’s strongest industries. And all those farms equal thousands of workers in Ohio’s ag industry, workers that deserve a safe, healthy working environment.

We’re here to do our part by providing on-site consultation services to help farms and agricultural businesses to recognize hazards and take actions to prevent workplace incidents. We also offer training courses at locations throughout the state to make it easy for workers to attend.

Additionally, we have conducted outreach on grain bin safety and developed educational materials about the dangers associated with grain bins. Our library offers many resources on agricultural safety, including a variety of audiovisual materials for borrowing.

During the past few years, we’ve had a booth at the annual Farm Science Review, one of the premier agricultural trade and education shows in the nation.

Being at the event – hosted by OSU Extension – has given us the opportunity to meet face-to-face with farmers and others from Ohio agribusiness.

At BWC, we’re serious about protecting farmers and Ohio’s agricultural workforce. It’s only right that we recognize and protect those who provide life’s essentials to us on National Ag Day and every day.

*USDA, National Agricultural Statistics Service
**USDA, 2012 Census of Agriculture