With harvest in full swing it is once again time to talk about grain bin safety. Illinois had the most grain-entrapment cases in 2020 with ten of them. Illinois also reported the highest number of incidents involving agricultural confined spaces including grain bins. It is believed by some experts that this number is actually underreported due to inadequate reporting in the past.
The Illinois Department of Labor is encouraging farmers and other agricultural workers to put safety first. They must also be properly trained on procedures for safely rescuing a worker from a grain bin, should they get stuck.
Illinois Department of Agriculture Director Jerry Costello II says that while harvest is often a time where farmers are rushing because they’re up against a clock, they shouldn’t try to think that they are big enough, strong enough, or fast enough, to get out of flowing grain. He says those problems can snowball.
The US Occupational Safety and Health Administration or OSHA says that a worker standing in moving grain can be trapped within 5 seconds and covered by grain in less than 30 seconds. Dave Newcomb with the Illinois Fire Service says there are three things to emphasize. First of all, don’t go into bins alone, second is to turn off anything that can make the grain move so you can keep it static, and lockout, tag out.
If you do have to enter a grain bin, prohibit walking on or down the grain to make it flow. You should provide all employees a body harness with a lifeline or a separate way to make sure they are connected. There should be an observer outside the bin or silo being entered by an employee. Make sure that employee is equipped to help and their only task is to track the employee in the bin. All workers should be trained for the specific hazardous work operations they perform. There should also be a test done of the air within a bin for the presence of combustible and toxic gases and to determine there’s enough oxygen.
OSHA notes that more than half of deaths in grain entrapment cases are would-be rescuers and 7/10 occur on family farms. For more information on grain bin safety, visit this story at www.taylorvilledailynews.com.