Agriculture Safety Matters: Grain Handling Safety

By | February 19, 2014

Agriculture Safety Matters

Agricultural workers are at a serious risk of injury and/or death when installing, climbing into, fumigating, entering, filling, or emptying a silo.  Because of the nature of the conditions present, workers may be exposed to hazards, such as a lack of oxygen, toxic gases, explosive atmospheres, and grain entrapment.

To reduce your risk of injury, consider the following safety recommendations:

General Safety Precautions

       Never smoke near a silo or cause sparks from metal friction or electric switches to ignite grain dust. It is extremely explosive, especially if the humidity in the air is low.

       If possible, complete tasks outside of the silo.

       Wear respiratory protection when appropriate.

       Ensure that all machine guarding equipment is engaged and in good working order.

Fumigation Safety

       Ventilate a fumigating silo before entering.

       Open phosphine containers while in open air.  Stand upwind as you open containers and wear protection gear.

       Always fumigate with a co-worker nearby in case of an emergency.

       Mark areas being fumigated with clearly labeled signs.

Avoiding Grain Suffocation

       Never enter a silo unless it is absolutely necessary.  If you must enter, have a co-worker close by in case of an emergency.

       Always turn off the auger and ensure that no one is going to empty or fill the silo before entering.

       Stand on a ladder above compacted or bridged grain while dislodging it.

Structural Safety Concerns

       Adhere to a “bedding-in” procedure when filling a silo by drawing off a rubbish bin full of grain.

       Instruct all co-workers to stay away when filling or emptying a silo.

       Conduct regular safety inspections of silos.

Protection Against Falls

       Use an approved fall restraint system and harness when climbing external silo ladders or when accessing a top hatch.

•   Install a wire mesh guard on external openings above the maximum grain level.

If You Become Trapped by Grain

       Do not panic.

       Shield your face and chest with your arms and clothes to create space to breathe.

       Have the co-worker positioned outside the silo call for help.

       The co-worker should enter the silo only while wearing a breathing apparatus and lifeline.

       Others from outside can then pull you both out safely.

Grain Handling Safety


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