Any number of situations can arise on a farm that cause farmers to enter a grain bin. Maybe some grain has clumped up or just isn’t flowing properly, or maybe you need to check the grain quality or clean the bin. Regardless of the reasons, safety should always be a top priority when entering a grain bin. According to a research study from Purdue University, there were 38 entrapments (an increase of 65% since 2017), and 23 deaths related to grain bins in 2019. These numbers can be decreased by following basic safety precautions.
One of the most important things to do before entering is asking yourself if it’s really necessary. If the answer is yes, always make sure to have someone there with you. Using the buddy system when dealing with grain bins can prevent all sorts of accidents. When working with your partner, keep these tips in mind:
- Communication is key. Know what the other person is doing at all times. If one you is turning on the auger, make sure the other knows to stay clear of the grain—or risk being sucked in. Use phones, walkie talkies, or whatever else works for you to keep clear communication even if you aren’t clearly visible to each other.
- If anyone needs to enter the grain bin, keep an eye on them. One person should always stay outside of the bin and at the ready if anything goes wrong.
- Understand the safety equipment and how to rescue someone if the worst happens. Attach a safety harness to prevent anyone from sinking in the grain, and be prepared to help pull them out. Pulling someone out of grain can be extremely difficult and dangerous, so be ready to call for emergency responders.
Falling into the grain isn’t the only risk with grain bins, either. Besides suffocation, there’s also the risk of fires, explosions, and the injuries caused by getting crushed. So, always remember to practice basic safety when working with bins—don’t make sparks or light a match by the bins, use safety equipment, power everything off before entering a bin—but never forget to use the buddy system.
Along with working with grain bins, a few reminders that overall safety is vital to having a successful harvest. When operating heavy machinery, remind your drivers to recognize signs of fatigue before it leads to an accident in the field or on the road. Make sure all the lights on equipment are working properly and allow plenty of space between you and other drivers on the road. If traffic becomes too congested behind your farm vehicle, pull over to the side and let the other traffic pass. Determining the best time of day to travel on the road safely should also be a priority during harvest. With the days getting shorter, it may be wise to travel on the road during daylight when other motorists can see your vehicle. By implementing these few simple reminders, it can be assured that you are practicing safe operating procedures.
From all of us at TSB, we wish all farmers and their supporters a safe and bountiful harvest!
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