Grain bin safety a must for farmers, co-ops alike
Farmer Alan Hett is always cautious when working with grain bins during harvest because he is well aware of the possible dangers.
“You sure don’t want to get in one while the grain is being taken out,” he said. “You can get sucked down into that grain and you can’t get out. You’d suffocate in there.”
Hett showed his children educational online videos with cautionary tales to teach them how to be safe.
“You show them that kind stuff, and they just have to stay away from all moving parts,” he said. “That’s the main thing, and you don’t want to get in the grain bin while they’re filling it.”
Companies like Cooperative Grain and Supply have tight safety procedures. Employees complete a checklist before entering, and a partner stays on the outside in case an emergency arises, grain coordinator Dick Tippin said.
“Too many people get hurt in grain bins every year,” he said. “We make sure people go through safety training every year.”
One safety measure the co-op requires is safety harnesses. That’s important in bins with sloped floors to prevent falling and rolling to the bottom, Tippin said.
The harness also is a must when entering full bins. Employees try to enter bins when they are empty so a side entrance can be used but sometimes they have to enter full ones, Tippin said.
“Especially with the metal grain bins, we’ll go in and level the peak so it gets better air and flow through it,” he said.
While the co-op has safety courses and checklists, just going through the process on a regular basis is how Hett has to stay sharp.
“It’s just one of those deals you do,” he said. “You work it every day, so you hope nothing goes wrong.”
Wet grain presents its own danger because it might stick together and need to be knocked down. It can collapse on someone, Hett said, which is why letting grain dry first is preferred, but that’s not always possible.
“I’ve never had that happened but I’ve heard of people having that happen,” he said. “Then I’d probably get a harness or something like that.”
Last modified Oct. 8, 2020