Grain bin safety
The leading cause of death in grain bin accidents is suffocation. When grain is moving inside a bin, it acts like quicksand and can quickly bury anyone inside.
Grain inside the bins can also form a crust. From above, the grain can appear to be solid and safe to walk on. However, the area below the surface can become hollow. This is called "bridged" grain, and it can collapse under the weight of a person. Entrapment can also lead to injuries and even death from being crushed by the weight of the grain.
Falling accidents are another common cause of injury relating to grain bins. Often, farmers need to climb to the top of a grain bin to break the "bridged" grain loose. The metal ladders leading to the top of the bin can be slick in the early part of the day when morning dew hasn't yet dried. Even a minor misstep can lead to a fall resulting in serious injury, paralysis, or even death.
Here are a few safety tips to help prevent grain bin injuries:
- Only enter a grain bin if absolutely necessary. Instead of entering the bin, try breaking up grain with a long pole.
- If it becomes necessary to enter a grain bin, always be sure any loading or unloading augers are shut off before climbing in.
- Wear a safety harness attached to a properly secured rope. This not only goes for when you need to climb inside a bin but even when climbing on top of one.
- Always have at least three people present when entering a grain bin -- one person to enter the bin, one on top of the bin to be sure the person in the bin is safe and one on the ground to call for help in case of an emergency.
- Be sure all safety plates are properly installed on fans and augers. This will help reduce the chance of body parts or loose clothing becoming entangled in the fan or auger.
- Install stairs around the grain bin instead of a ladder. Stairs are a much safer alternative to vertical ladders.
- Adopt new technology such as ground operated lid openers, platforms, and computer monitoring of moisture and temperature to reduce the need to enter or climb into the bin.