Grain powers American agriculture. During Stand-Up for Grain Safety Week, March 25 through 29, we want to remind everyone working on farms and in grain-handling facilities to respect and understand the risks associated with working with grain.
“It’s important to continue to work with the industry, our employees and our farmer-owners on the hazards in the grain industry, while stressing safe practices and controls to ensure their safety,” says Matt Surdick, manager, Country Operations Environment, Health and Safety, CHS.
Stand-Up for Grain Safety Week was organized by the National Grain and Feed Association (NGFA), the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), the Grain Elevator and Processing Society, the American Feed Industry Association and the Grain Handling Safety Coalition.
The groups remind us to remember five steps to grain safety:
- Never walk down grain
- Guard elevated work surfaces
- Watch for moving equipment
- Safeguard moving equipment
- Lock out equipment
Moving or flowing grain acts like quicksand and can bury a person in seconds. From the time an auger starts, a person has two to three seconds to react. In four to five seconds, a person is trapped. In 22 seconds or less, the person is completely covered by grain. Grain bin incidents often result in multiple fatalities because coworkers improperly attempt rescue procedures and become engulfed themselves.
“Following procedures, evaluating your surroundings, using proper equipment and ensuring constant communication are keys to entering and exiting a grain bin or silo safely,” Surdick says. “Do it the right way, every time.”
Be aware of bridging grain, which occurs when grain clumps together due to moisture or mold. These conditions can create an empty space beneath the grain as it is unloaded, which means it can collapse unexpectedly or under a person’s weight. Do not enter a bin when there is a bridging condition, or if grain is built up on the side of the bin.
Always monitor the atmosphere inside bins for dangerous changes. Make sure there two people are always present when working in bins and maintain communications between the attendant outside the bin and the person inside the bin.
Never move grain into or out of a bin while someone is inside. Lockout/tagout all mechanical, electrical, hydraulic and pneumatic equipment that presents a danger, particularly grain-moving equipment.
A bin of grain may seem harmless, but in just seconds, that harmless grain can claim a life. Please be safe and share these messages with anyone working with grain.