With on-farm grain storage on the rise – and a record number of grain engulfment deaths across the nation last year – agricultural leaders in Nebraska are placing special emphasis on grain handling safety.
The Nebraska Corn Board and Nebraska Corn Growers Association encourage farmers, grain elevators and other grain handlers to slow down while working with grain.
"We feel it is increasingly important to promote grain bin safety awareness and remind all grain handlers of the hazards of working around grain," says Larry Mussack, president of the NeCGA. "With just one misstep or just a moment of distraction, you could find yourself or someone you know in a grain entrapment emergency."
Danger of farming
National statistics show that farming is one of the most dangerous occupations in America. Over the past 50 years, more than 900 cases of grain engulfment have been reported, and the fatality rate is 62%.
With a 10-inch auger, it takes just 25 seconds for a 6-foot person to be completely buried in grain, Mussack says.
Here are a few grain bin safety tips to keep in mind when working with stored grain:
• Use inspection holes or grain level markers to understand what's happening inside the bin. Use a pole from outside the bin to break up grain bridges.
• Enter a grain bin only if absolutely necessary. If you must get into the bin, use a body harness secured to the outside of the bin. Have at least two people watching over you as you enter and work inside the bin.
• Use hand signals to communicate, and make sure everyone you're working with knows what those signals are.
A record high yield, combined with an upward trend in on-farm grain storage capacity, has experts projecting an even larger number of grain engulfment accidents in 2015, according to Mussack.
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"Now, more than ever, it is important to take the extra second and follow the safety rules when it comes to working with grain stored in bins," says Kelly Brunkhorst, executive director of the Nebraska Corn Board.
"With on-farm safety being a continued effort at Nebraska Corn, we want both farmers and emergency responders to understand how to avoid grain bin accidents and how to help someone who does end up in trouble in a grain bin. There is no better time than the present to work together as an agricultural community and help prevent these tragic accidents from occurring."Source: Nebraska Corn Board