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Five things to consider on grain bin safety

Entering a grain bin can be risky. Hazards include grain (risk of entrapment), moving parts (like a bin sweep), and poor air quality. Below are the What, Why, Who, When and Where of grain bins and some tips to keep everyone safe.

What is a characteristic of a grain bin that could be considered hazardous?

  • All grain bins are considered to be confined spaces because of limited access/egress.
  • Bin sweeps, augers and aeration systems can be considered entanglement hazards.
  • Bin ladders can be considered a fall hazard.
  • Poor air quality could also be a hazard.
  • Other hazards may exist such as rodent droppings, sharp objects, slip, trip and fall hazards.

Why would a person need to enter a grain bin?

  • Routine maintenance or repairs.
  • Out-of-condition grain — it tends to crust up, bridge over, or scale up on the bin walls and can clog up augers or sweeps.

Who should enter a grain bin?

  • Only authorized people who are familiar with bin entry and the equipment and hazards associated with the bin.
  • Entrants should never work alone. It’s essential to have an attendant who knows how to shut down the equipment and is trained in emergency response procedures

When is it the safest for a person to enter a grain bin?

  • Once the environment inside the bin is safe. Good air quality may need to be confirmed before entry.
  • Once an attendant is present outside the bin.
  • Fall protection equipment should be considered when entering a bin with product inside of it.

Where would a person enter?

  • Through an entry door (when empty) or a hatch on the top (with product inside).

Tips

  • Use your aeration systems as needed to keep your grain in good condition. The safest entry into a grain bin is not entering it.
  • Ensure that there is no flowing grain if you need to enter. Moving grain behaves like quicksand.
  • Develop and implement an emergency response plan that is specific to your operation which includes shutdown procedures, emergency contacts (local fire department/first response) and lockout procedures.
  • Educate children to stay away from and out of grain bins and supervise any children on the farm.
  • Replace all guards on augers and sweeps if removed for maintenance or repairs.
  • Post signage on the bin indicating the dangers.

For more information about grain safety, visit ‘BeGrainSafe’ at the Canadian Agricultural Safety Association website.

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