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Electrical lock-out switch could save someone's life

Electrical lock-out switch could save someone's life
Lock it and take the keys with you so no one can turn on something you might be working on.

Do you have grain still in the bin? You can just visualize hands going up. How many of you with corn still in the bin are concerned you might have some spoilage issues? A few hands went up again. If you still have grain in the bin and you have storage issues, will you get in the bin to diagnose the problem? It’s OK, you can raise your hand - I didn’t ask if you would get in the bin to diagnose the problem with the auger running. It’s assumed that you wouldn’t do that.

LOCK IT UP: Lock out the auger control box switch. Don’t throw away the key- just take it with you as you go to work on the auger. Only you can come back and unlock it to restore power.

Assuming the auger isn’t running and you get in the bin, will anybody else be around when you do it?  In many cases the answer would be no. Does someone else work on the farm or around the grain bins that could happen by while you’re inside the bin? If the answer is yes, then you need to listen to what Mike Manning has to say.

Related: Who will train firefighters and EMT's for on-farm rescue in the next decade?

One way to prevent a possible accident, Manning says, is to install a simple device on the auger switch on the outside of the bin, or at the electrical box, that would prevent someone who comes along, perhaps a truck driver coming for the next load, from turning on the auger while you are in the bin. Manning helps train young workers and promotes safety practices inside confined spaces. He works with Bill Field, Purdue University Extension safety specialist.

“It’s simple, but it allows you to put an actual lock on the switch, lock it so that it can’t be turned on, and take the key with you,” Manning says. “There have been cases where someone turned on an auger, not knowing someone was in the facility, and working on the auger. In at least one case, it cost the worker an arm.”

Related: 'Stay out of the grain bin for us' - Roger Cain's family

This would be a good time to install such a simple device if you still have grain in the bin, especially if you may need to be checking it because it may have some issues. As planting season unfolds, time will be short and people may not always know exactly what everyone on the farm is doing at any one time.

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