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Stay safe when you clean out bins

Randy Myers, GSI clean bin floor
SPOTLESS! Here is the goal for cleaning out bins: a floor as clean and shiny as new.
Harvest 2017: The first step in getting bins ready for this year’s crop is safely and effectively emptying last year’s crop.

Emptying the last of that old-crop corn out of your grain bins isn’t glamorous. But doing it correctly is a must. It’s also important to review safety rules before launching into cleaning out bins.

Gary Woodruff, GSI conditioning applications manager, provides 12 tips to follow as you clean out grain bins. They’re designed with safety and efficiency in mind.

The first seven tips involve doing the job safely. That’s how important safety rates when it comes to working in dusty bins that could contain spoiled grain. The last five tips address beginning the cleaning process. 

1. Make “zero entry” your goal. Never enter a bin if there is safer way to accomplish the work needed.

2. Put together an emergency plan. Have safety equipment available in the event that it’s needed. Make sure there are enough people around for the job, including someone to stay outside the bin to observe and help in the event of an emergency.

3. Shut off the electrical power before entering the bin. Use a tagged “lock-out” system on the power supply to prevent someone else from turning power back on while someone is inside the bin.

4. Never enter a bin without a good dust filter. The filter should be rated for mold. Better yet, use a good respirator.

5. Never enter a bin when the discharge or sweep is running. Monitor from the bin door instead, and shut down the discharge equipment to make adjustments.

6. Keep children away from the work area. This one speaks for itself.

7. Work smart. Have a plan, do not hurry, and stay safe. 

8. Prepare properly for clean-out once grain is removed. Again, zero entry should be the goal, and an emergency plan and safety equipment should be in place. Never enter a bin without proper breathing protection. Properly lock out the electrical supply to bin equipment.

9. Sweep and thoroughly clean the bin floor. Also thoroughly clean the center well area, discharge auger and bin wall. Debris can harbor both insects and mold from the previous year, contaminating new grain. Start with a broom and include a good vacuum cleaning to get all of the cracked and broken corn, fines, and dust.

10. Clean all equipment involved in harvest, not just the bin. Combines, truck beds, grain carts and augers can harbor insects and mold from the previous year that can contaminate high-quality grain being harvested and binned.

11. Apply a residual insecticide to all surfaces inside and out. Do this immediately before filling with new grain. Check with your local ag university for the best insecticide to use. Carefully read and follow label instructions.

12. Check under floors. With partial and full floors, check underneath. Eventually, that space will need to be cleaned out, as well.

Editor’s note: This is the first in a series of articles offering tips to prepare for the 2017 harvest season.

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