Since 1980 grain bins across the U.S have been responsible for more than 180 deaths and 675 injuries. Just last year, a Hoosier farmer in La Porte county was killed in a grain bin accident. This month a 9-year-old Wisconsin boy was killed after falling into a grain bin. With harvest time approaching the Indiana Department of Labor wants to remind everyone of the hazardous nature of working with grain bins and offer some tips to assure safety.
People working with grain bins are exposed to several occupational dangers. For example grain bin dust is combustible and responsible for the majority of explosions. Other dangers include falls, electrocution, engulfment and auger entanglement. The most important safety precaution to remember is to never work alone. Working with a partner ensures there is always help near by just in case of emergency.
In addition to never working alone, there are ways that employers and employees can reduce the likelihood of worker injury, illness or death by following a few other precautions.
Dust explosions can be prevented by testing the air within a bin or silo for the presence of combustible and toxic gases and make sure there is sufficient oxygen for safe entry.
To avoid falls provide workers with body harnesses and lifelines or a boatswains chair. Be sure these things are properly secured before entering the grain bin.
To prevent electrocution and auger entanglement shut down and lock out all equipment power sources before entering a grain bin or silo. Station an observer outside the bin or silo to continuously monitor and track the employee inside the bin.
Eliminate the danger of engulfment by prohibiting employees from ‘walking-down’ the grain or using similar practices to make the grain flow. Prohibit entry into bins or silos underneath a bridging condition or where there is a build-up of grain products on side walls that could shift and bury a worker.
The Indiana Department of labor strongly encourages all employers and employees who work with this potentially dangerous equipment to learn more about safe grain handling procedures and safety precautions. Click here for more info. For questions about worker safety and health, contact INSafe, the Indiana on site OSHA consultation program, at firstname.lastname@example.org or 317-232-2688.