The National Grain and Feed Association (NGFA) has announced the first-ever Harvest Safety Week, October 14-18, to promote health and safety in the workplace and out in the fields.

As feed and grain workers are working long hours during this busy time, it’s important for them to keep these safety tips in mind:

  • Train all workers, and confirm they fully understand safety protocols.
  • Insist that regular communication between coworkers is part of standard operating procedures.
  • Ensure that an attendant remains by the bin entrance during the entry process and is in constant communication with coworkers.
  • Prohibit anyone from entering the bin alone. For safety purposes, there should always be at least two workers around when anyone enters a bin.
  • Evaluate the bin’s air quality before allowing anyone to enter a bin. At a minimum, there should be 19.5% oxygen inside the bin. Grain bin dust may impact workers, who could have difficulty breathing, depending on air quality and conditions. Workers should wear a mask equipped with a high efficiency filter to protect them from dust, mold and other possible irritants.
  • Wear appropriate harness and lifeline when entering bins containing grain, to reduce fall risks.
  • Turn off, lock out and tag all potentially hazardous energy sources (including augers) before entering a bin.
  • Never enter a bin if the auger is running. Otherwise, a worker can be pulled into that grain up to their waist within 15 seconds, and completely submerged in just 30 seconds.
  • Never walk on or walk “down” grain to make it flow.
  • Never smoke, weld or grind anything near grain bins to prevent a possible fire or explosion from ignited grain or dust.
  • Be mindful of potential hazards in or near bins.
  • Understand the dangers of having children in the vicinity of the bin/grain carts. Children can quickly become engulfed, entrapped or entangled in a loaded grain cart. Do not allow children to play in or near this equipment (or in/near the grain).
  • Understand which tools need to be used for the work and how to use them properly.
  • Ensure that all equipment is running properly and that proper safety mechanisms are in place.
  • Have an emergency action plan in place. Every employee should know what happens in the event of an incident or accident.  What are the first steps?  Who needs to be notified?
  • Ensure that rescue equipment is serviceable and available.
  • Stop working when you’re tired. Accidents are more likely to occur when workers are tired, cutting corners, and/or not being mindful of safety rules and possible hazards.

The NGFA’s efforts to enhance safety for feed and grain workers include research, education and training, which have dramatically reduced the number of fire and explosion incidents in commercial grain handling facilities. For a full list of NGFA’s safety tips and resources, please visit ngfa.org/safety.

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