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Keep grain in condition and stay out of the bin.

Tom J Bechman 1, Editor, Indiana Prairie Farmer

October 20, 2006

3 Min Read

Brock is one of the major makers of grain bins. When the Milford, Ind., business hosted a safety forum recently sponsored by the Indiana Farm Safety and Rural Health Council, spokespersons for Brock displayed products available that should lessen the chances for grain bin entrapment. They include a product that fits over the grain well and prevents chunks of grain from clogging up the auger.

Many grain bin suffocations and deaths happen when a chunk of moldy or out-of-condition grain either shuts off flow over the grain well, or clogs the unloading auger. Farmers traditionally climb into the bin with a pole to free the clog. Too many times they do it with the auger running since it's convenient that way - to know when the clog breaks - convenient but deadly. Once the clog breaks, the almost unbelievable suction power of flowing grain pulls in an unsuspecting victim before he has time to react.

But Brock also spent lots of time talking about improvements they've made to bins to help keep grain in better condition, everything down to more watertight bolts used to put bins together. "Their point is that if you can keep grain in good condition in the first place, then you won't have spoilage and hot spots," says Bill Field, Purdue University ag safety specialist. "If you've got little or no spoilage, there shouldn't be clumps within the grain capable of shutting off flow, and you will have no reason to be inside the bin in the first place."

If you do have to go inside a bin, take precautions, and not just 'I think it's good enough' precautions. An Indiana Prairie Farmer Master farmer, Dave Buck, Milton, died inside a grain bin even though he was tied off to a grain bin ladder with a rope and carried a 'walkie- talkie.' The force of the grain that started flowing once he freed the clog over the unloading well pulled the top of the ladder off the wall, freeing the rope. He never had a chance to contact his son-in-law outside - it all happens too quickly.

If you're going to go inside, there are approved safety materials available from safety supply outlets, including Gemplers. One such device is a lanyard and harness, selling for about $110. Beth Horak, a Farm Safety 4 Just Kids outreach coordinator in Nebraska, demonstrated the harness at a recent Midwest farm show.

Farm Safety 4 Just Kids was started by Marilyn Adams, an Iowa farmwife who lost her 11-year old son in a grain wagon suffocation accident many years ago. Her story was recently featured in the November issue of Guideposts magazine.

One of the brochures she distributes includes these tips:

  • Never allow young children to enter or play in grain transport or storage areas.

  • Instruct older working youth about working around grain.

  • Supervise youth working with grain.

  • Remember safety devices like usk masks are designed to fit adults, not kids.

  • Place warning decals on grain storage structures and gravity wagons.

  • Always have another person within hearing distance to shut off augers in an emergency.

  • Never enter a bin where crusting may have occurred.

  • Block access to external ladders so kids aren't tempted.

  • Make sure all augers are properly shielded.

About the Author(s)

Tom J Bechman 1

Editor, Indiana Prairie Farmer

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