Staying safe doesn't take much extra time or much extra expense. It just takes common sense and some pre-planning.
The device Johnson County Extension ag educator Sarah Speedy is holding in the picture is an example of an electrical box with a lock-out switch. It's the kind of box that could be used to control an unloading auger emptying grain out of a bin, or other power equipment around a grain handling operation.
The unit is readily available at reasonably low cost from a number of safety supply houses, especially ones that carry equipment related to agriculture. This device can be used in other industries as well.
Here's how it works. Once installed, you insert the yellow tag so you can slip your padlock through it. The tag prevents the switch from being turned on to restore power to the unit you are locking out. Many times it will be the unloading auger that brings grain out from under the floor of a grain bin to an auger that loads a semi or truck with grain.
Suppose you're going to work on something inside the bin. You want to be absolutely sure that no one comes by, doesn't know you're in the bin working on the equipment, and flips the power back on, thinking they want to use the unloading auger to fill a truck, for example.
Once you shut off the switch and put your personal padlock on it, there is no way anyone else can open it, Speedy observes. You take the key with you. The secret is that you use your own padlock exclusive to you so that no one but you has the key. When you finish your work, you unlock the padlock, remove it and can turn the power back on.
It may be a simple system, but it prevents the type of accidents that cause injuries or result in fatal accidents.