Kent McGuire – OSU Ag Safety and Health Coordinator
Harvest season is in full swing. For many farmers this includes a lot of activity at their grain storage facility filling bins with corn and soybeans. Throughout Ohio, on-farm grain storage facilities are being upgraded and newly constructed storage facilities are getting larger and larger. Common injuries associated with grain handling include slips, trips and falls; blunt trauma incidents; sprains / strains; entanglement; engulfment; and injuries due to fatigue. Below are safety considerations for your grain storage facility when working this fall and winter:
- Keep equipment properly maintained. Recognize, respect, and avoid equipment hazards such as cut points, wrap points, pinch points, burn points, and stored energy. Severe injuries from equipment hazards can happen in a fraction of a second.
- Emergency contact information and procedures should be available and verified. Make sure cell phones are adequately charged and have signal before starting potentially dangerous work.
- Notify family members or coworkers before starting potentially dangerous work and tell them when you expect to finish. If you are supposed to be done in three hours, someone can check on you if you are late.
- Know where overhead power lines are so they can be avoided when moving equipment or using a portable auger.
- Insure there is adequate lighting at the facility when working in low light conditions to prevent slips, trips, and falls.
- Have a fire extinguisher handy and charged. A fire in its beginning stages can many times be extinguished by quick response by someone with a fire extinguisher.
- Use a N-95 respirator when unloading grain or working in grain bins. Grain dust and molds can cause serious respiratory health issues.
Never enter a grain bin while grain handling components, such as augers, are in operation
- All equipment shutoffs should be labeled in the electrical panel and at switches. This makes it easier to shut off specific equipment in the event of an emergency.
- Lockout/tagout procedures should be developed for all equipment. When working on the grain bin, lockout/tagout keeps equipment from being unexpectedly started.
- Bridged grain or grain lining the wall of the bin is dangerous and should be handled at a distance. Use a pole to break up bridged grain and try pounding on the outside of the bin to dislodged grain that clings to bin walls.
- If the grain is out of condition, poisonous gases may accumulate. If you suspect that the air inside the bin is not safe, do not try to enter without first sampling the air.
- If you must enter the bin use a body harness, lifeline and station a person at the entry point to monitor the person in the bin.
- Ask your local fire department if they would like a tour of your facility. If needed, it will help them respond more efficiently to your farm.