By Jess McCluer, Vice President of Safety and Regulatory Affairs
Due to the number of fatalities and injuries attributable to engulfment and entrapments in grain bins on family farms and at commercial grain handling facilities, the National Grain and Feed Association (NGFA) is working with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to host an awareness week to remind both employers and employees about common entrapment hazards and available NGFA and OSHA training material.
There were 60 confirmed grain bin entrapments and incidents in confined spaces on U.S. farms in 2016, according to Purdue University. That’s a 27 percent increase from 2015, and Purdue estimates that an additional 30 percent of cases go unreported each year. To help prevent further deaths and injuries, the NGFA-OSHA National Alliance, in collaboration with the American Feed Industry Association (AFIA) and the Grain Elevator and Processing Society (GEAPS) has created the “Stand-Up for Grain Engulfment Prevention” week to promote grain bin safety on farms and commercial grain handling facilities. This year’s event, which will help raise awareness about grain bin dangers, provide education and share safety best practices, will be April 9-13.
The week will begin with a kick-off press event on Monday near a grain handling facility followed by a webinar on Tuesday that provides an overview of the material available on the Stand-Up website. From Wednesday through Friday, handouts for safety briefings on topics such as grain bin entry, mechanical hazards and grain engulfment will be distributed.
Companies may participate by providing a focused activity or toolbox talk on topics such as lock-out/tag-out, walk down, fall prevention, permitting or any other prevention measures. These events should provide information to workers about hazards, protective methods, and the company’s safety policies, goals and expectations, while also serving as an opportunity to hear feedback from employees. During this event, employees may be able to conduct site activities, such as employee training, hazard hunts, audits of prevention measures, corrections of any identified hazards, and a review of lock-out/tag-out and engulfment prevention measures and procedures.
Participating companies will be encouraged to fill out information about their safety activities on this website, which provides training materials and a certificate of participation to demonstrate involvement in the prevention initiative.
The NGFA has provided several resources, including Safety Tip Sheets, guidance documents and training videos for companies wishing to become involved in the “Stand-Up for Grain Engulfment Prevention” campaign on the campaign website. The material is also available on the Safety section of the NGFA website.