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Safety around grain as important now as in NovemberSafety around grain as important now as in November

There is no free pass that prevents grain entrapment in summer months.

Tom Bechman 1

June 3, 2016

2 Min Read

August was a hot month that summer. On one steamy morning, just before the Farm Progress Show, the call no one wants to hear came in. A neighbor was stuck in a grain bin. When his grandson finally crawled out of the bin two hours later, he was covered in sweat, dust and mold. No one was able to save his grandpa.

No one ever knew exactly why Grandpa went into the bin without telling anyone. But they did know the grain was going out of condition, and they were having problems keeping clumps of grain away from the inlet of the unloading auger in the bin floor.


Unfortunately, experts say that’s where a lot of grain entrapment disasters start: with out-of-condition grain. It can happen any month of the year, any time, any place. Gary Woodruff, GSI conditioning applications manager, recently addressed grain bin safety in this question-and-answer format.

IPF: What safety recommendations do you suggest people follow when checking grain?

Woodruff: The No. 1 safety issue is to follow the storage rules and keep the grain in good condition. [Then] you don’t have to deal with [grain] condition issues. Grain entrapments usually happen when grain has been allowed to go out of condition. You should never enter a bin. Instead, do your check from outside, looking for an off smell, crusting or a change in surface grain moisture.

IPF: What kind of safety protection do you need?

Woodruff: Use fall protection equipment, and make sure the bin ladder has a safety cage. If it doesn’t, then tie off. Having an eave platform helps you stay safer, as well. If you see an issue, move grain out of the bin until all of the damaged grain has been removed.

IPF: What safety rules should you follow while unloading grain?

Woodruff: When unloading grain and grain quits moving, safety experts always recommend having a second person at the roof access door, using fall protection equipment and having a phone to call for help if needed. These are all good recommendations.

IPF: What other advice would you offer someone?

Woodruff: It is best to never enter the bin, particularly if grain isn’t flowing normally, or the auger has quit moving grain. Also, never pull grain from the auxiliary well until all of the grain that can be removed via the center well has been removed.

IPF: Why don’t you recommend using an auxiliary well in that situation?

Woodruff: Using an auxiliary well puts uneven pressure on the bin. That can cause damage or even [bin] failure. 

About the Author(s)

Tom Bechman 1

Editor, Indiana Prairie Farm

Tom Bechman is an important cog in the Farm Progress machinery. In addition to serving as editor of Indiana Prairie Farmer, Tom is nationally known for his coverage of Midwest agronomy, conservation, no-till farming, farm management, farm safety, high-tech farming and personal property tax relief. His byline appears monthly in many of the 18 state and regional farm magazines published by Farm Progress.

"I consider it my responsibility and opportunity as a farm magazine editor to supply useful information that will help today's farm families survive and thrive," the veteran editor says.

Tom graduated from Whiteland (Ind.) High School, earned his B.S. in animal science and agricultural education from Purdue University in 1975 and an M.S. in dairy nutrition two years later. He first joined the magazine as a field editor in 1981 after four years as a vocational agriculture teacher.

Tom enjoys interacting with farm families, university specialists and industry leaders, gathering and sifting through loads of information available in agriculture today. "Whenever I find a new idea or a new thought that could either improve someone's life or their income, I consider it a personal challenge to discover how to present it in the most useful form, " he says.

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