Grain Handling Safety
August 31, 2015
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.
- Ventilate a fumigating silo before entering.
- Open phosphine containers while in the 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 labelled 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.