Data from the Canadian Agricultural Injury Reporting program (CAIR) lists the frequency of deaths from falls on the farm well behind machinery and animal causes. About as many people drown on the farm as die from a fall. But data from a soon-to- be-released economic analysis of injury and deaths in rural Canada ranks falls at the top in terms of numbers of people hospitalized and partially or totally permanently disabled.
Whatever the number, it’s too many. Every one of those deaths could have been prevented.
In order to decrease the incidence of falls, let’s look at the equipment. As a rule of thumb, farmers are advised to make sure that a fixed vertical ladder on a grain bin more than six metres high has a ladder cage, with platforms where required. If there’s no cage, there should be some approved fall-arresting device in place.
Each province has different but similar safety requirements for ladders. Check with your provincial occupational health and safety regulations and get in touch with your bin supplier to make sure your ladders meet the approved standards.
As wells as the cages, look for handrails and non-skid rungs spaced to fit your stride.
And there’s something else you might want to consider — a ladder security system to keep small children and others off your grain bin. Bin manufacturers offer different protection, but you should look for a securely attached lockout device to prevent just anyone from climbing up.
Once the ladder is up to snuff, make sure you are, too. For instance, plan your work so you rarely have to go to the top of your bins. There are remote hatch opening systems you can operate at ground level. But if you must climb up, move slowly and carefully. Keep your hands free for climbing.
Move up — and down — safely. PLAN. FARM. SAFETY.