LINCOLN, NE – On-farm grain storage is on the rise—and consequently—so are fatal accidents associated with grain handling and storage. That’s why the Nebraska Corn Board and Nebraska Corn Growers Association are placing special emphasis on grain handling safety during Grain Bin Safety Week, February 21-27, 2016. In observance of the week, Nebraska Corn’s goal is to help prevent grain related accidents by increasing awareness of grain bin safety on farms and commercial grain-handling facilities.
“National statistics show that farming is one of the most dangerous occupations in America,” said David Merrell, farmer from St. Edward, Nebraska and chairman of the Nebraska Corn Board. “With on-farm safety a continual effort at Nebraska Corn, we believe it is always important to remind farmers, grain elevators and other grain handlers to slow down and take a second for safety when working with stored grain. We want both grain handlers and emergency responders to understand how to avoid grain bin accidents—and how to help someone who does end up in trouble in a grain bin.”
Record high yields, combined with an upward trend in on-farm grain storage capacity has experts projecting an increase in grain engulfment accidents. In 2015 alone, there were more than 22 reported grain bin entrapments, resulting in 11 fatalities. Grain engulfment accidents can happen in a blink of an eye, with just one misstep or a moment of distraction, a grain handler could find himself in a grain entrapment emergency. For instance, using a 10-inch auger, it takes a mere 25 seconds for a 6-foot person to be completely buried in grain.
“Grain Bin Safety Week provides a forum for the agricultural community to help prevent these tragic accidents from occurring,” said Morgan Wrich, program director for the Nebraska Corn Growers Association. “With the hectic spring season around the corner, many Nebraska farmers are busy handling their on-farm grain storage—making this annual observance a timely opportunity to remind them and other grain handlers of the hazards of working around grain.”
With the proper safety procedures, grain bin accidents are preventable. That’s why it is important to take the extra second and follow all the safety rules when it comes to working with grain stored in bins. Here are a few grain bin safety tips to keep in mind when you are working with stored grain:
- Use inspection holes or grain level markers to understand what’s happening inside the bin. Use a pole from outside the bin to break up grain bridges.
- You should enter a grain bin only if absolutely necessary. If you must get into the bin, use a body harness secured to the outside of the bin. Have at least two people watching over you as you enter and work inside the bin.
- Use hand signals to communicate—and make sure everyone you’re working with knows what those signals are.