During an unusual planting and harvesting season, safety issues are particularly relevant as high grain moisture levels are prompting the need for aeration strategies.
The Grain Handling Safety Coalition noted that high-moisture grain harvested in 2009 resulted in a dramatic increase in the number of grain engulfments well into 2010. Because moisture levels are high again during this year’s harvest, the coalition issued the following safety reminders:
“Problems tend to develop when wet grain is immobile inside of a grain bin for too long without being properly aerated or circulated. This is when it starts to crust together, cling to bin walls, and even smolder. In addition to helping grain quality, good aeration and circulation practices improve safety by minimizing these complications.
“It is well known the most significant safety issues occur when a worker makes a top entry into a grain bin to inspect the grain or bust up chunks while the grain is flowing. Because of this downward pull, a grain bin should never be entered with flowing grain. When there is wet grain, a false sense of security develops since the grain can bridge and collapse under the weight of the worker. Top entry needs to be avoided, but if it must be done then specific safety procedures must be followed that include using a harness and lifeline with proper anchor points to eliminate the possibility of engulfment.
“For grain that may stick to walls or form a tower inside a bin, ideally the grain should be dislodged without entering the bin. Sometimes this is done by ‘banging’ or vibrating exterior walls or prodding piles from the outside. Being inside a bin while dislodging a grain tower must be avoided.
“If a grain bin must be entered to deal with grain chucks that are causing complications with sweep or sump augers, then those augers must be de-energized. Never enter a grain bin with a sweep or sump auger in operation (unless the sump auger has a proper guard cover). Too many injuries occur each year from workers becoming entangled when they slip or loose awareness of the auger’s location.
“Remember, complications from 2019 wet grain can remain well into 2020.”
NGFA has a full suite of safety materials available at ngfa.org/safety. Visit the website for harvest-related safety training guides and videos, including:
- Grain Bin Entry training video
- Safety and Grain Quality Management training video
- Preparing Bins for Harvest Safety Tips Sheet