Grain is the life of most farming operations. Grain volumes, storage capacities and handling rates continue to grow in Canada in response to larger yields and a growing world population that requires grain products. Along with this good news, there is some bad news.
The frequency of grain entrapments is growing nationally. In 2015 alone, media reports indicated that there were seven deaths and two injuries connected with grain across Canada. To put that in perspective, there have been 17 deaths over 23 years from 1990 to 2012 attributed to suffocation due to grain.
In the United States, extensive infrastructure exists for grain safety training, including training in grain extraction, lockout-tagout procedures, confined spaces, grain dust and more. In Canada, no such program exists for individual producers.
In response to the growing need, the Canadian Agricultural Safety Association (CASA) has developed a grain safety program, “BeGrainSafe.” At the heart of the BeGrainSafe program is a mobile demonstration unit which can function as both a grain entrapment demonstration unit and a rescue-training unit.
- The mobile unit will serve three purposes:Rescue training. The unit will be used to train first responders in grain extrication procedures.
- General prevention education. It will be used as a learning tool to sensitize public audiences about the dangers of grain entrapment, and the importance of lockout-tag out procedures.
- On-site training.
Along with this mobile unit, the BeGrainSafe program includes a trade show component. This display will include activities demonstrating the forces holding a person entrapped in grain and information about hazards associated with confined spaces and mechanical hazards.
Of course, awareness of grain entrapment isn’t just important for adults, but also for children and youth. BeGrainSafe will include interactive youth tabletop displays that will engage youth (and their parents!) to impress the importance of understanding the hazards associated with grain.
The whole program will be supported by a microsite with an online calendar, information, learning materials and more. The BeGrainSafe program aims to be interesting, educational and easy to understand.
CASA will be launching the BeGrainSafe program in January at Manitoba Ag Days in Brandon. CASA will be there with a mobile unit and interactive displays. This program will start in the three Prairie provinces and will visit as many major farm shows in this area as possible.
Remember, grain entrapments occur when: a person is present on the surface grain, which is being drawn out from beneath them; a person attempts to walk across the surface of grain where a void exists beneath the surface; or a person is in a grain storage facility where grain has solidified onto the walls of the bin and then the wall of grain collapses onto the individual.