Safe Grain Handling During Harvest

Staying safe during grain handling operations is important. Be sure to evaluate and control all hazards.
Safe Grain Handling During Harvest - News

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Keep away from grain augers

A few grain kernels may look harmless, however a sea of grain with its sheer mass is very hazardous. A bushel of grain weighs approximately 56 pounds. An eight-inch diameter unloading auger can move approximately 42 bushels in one minute. That can be the equivalent of over 2,000 pounds of material being moved in a single minute.

Grain can be compared to flowing water in that the grain will exert pressure over the entire surface of any submerged object. However, that is where the similarity ends. The force required to extract someone up through grain is far greater than to rescue someone from underwater. Water has an upward buoyant force which assists in rescuing victims. With grain the predominant force is due to adhesion of grain kernels to the victim and cohesion between the grain kernels, which together create a large friction force. Extraction forces required to rescue a 165-pound mannequin entrapped to a depth of a typical waistline (approximately 3 ft) have measure over 300 pounds of force.

Grain entrapment and suffocation are preventable if safety precautions are followed. The biggest safety tip is to prevent, if possible, the need to enter the bin or storage structure. Another recommendation is to never work alone. Assign specific roles and responsibilities for everyone frequently working around the facility, especially truck drivers or haulers. Working together as a team will help identified more hazards and get more safety controls put into place.

Children’s curiosity and their passion to be a good helper can get them in to trouble on the farm. With children on the scene, it is hard to keep track of where they are at all times. Noise and the continuous bustling of moving trucks, trailers, or tractors create a very hazardous situation for youth. It can take less than five seconds to become helplessly entrapped in flowing grain. With the hustle of moving grain, children can quickly get out of sight and into danger. With the noise of the auger and equipment running, you most likely will not hear any cries for help. It is extremely important to keep children away from the unloading and loading site.

Children naturally love being outdoors and active around the farm, but remember to never to let them climb or play in grain, storage bins, hopper wagons, truck grain beds or any grain holding/handling equipment. Children can become overcome quickly and be engulfed before you realize what is happening when grain starts flowing. The best practice is to keep children off grain vehicles and away from areas while unloading and loading grain. Assign them a designated safe play area away from farm hazards.

In the event of an emergency, be sure to shut off all unloading equipment, then call 911 or emergency rescue services. Be sure to prevent anyone from entering the scene until trained emergency first-response personnel arrive. Rescue efforts must be very well-prepared and well-equipped, otherwise the rescue itself can create additional fatalities or injuries. Too often, multiple fatalities will be the result if an ill-prepared rescue is attempted.

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