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Office: University of Arkansas System Division of AgricultureCooperative Extension Service2301 S. University Avenue Little Rock, AR 72204
Flowing grain remains the number one cause of fatalities for grain handlers. Large
or unstable quantities of grain can flow like liquids. Unlike water, which allows
a person to swim, it is difficult or impossible for a grain handler to move if caught
in grain flow. A grain handler can be buried in a few seconds if caught in grain flow,
resulting in suffocation.
The number of nonfatal and fatal incidents related to grain entrapment in the United
Grain Bin Entrapment and EngulfmentThe term entrapment implies an incident when a grain bin worker becomes buried in
the grain beyond the point of self-extraction. On the other hand, the term engulfment
implies an incident when a grain bin worker is completely buried or submerged beneath the
surface of the grain. In many cases, grain entrapment leads to engulfment which, in
turn, is fatal.
Causes of Grain Bin EntrapmentAccording to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), most incidents
of entrapment suffered by grain handlers who have entered bins or silos resulted when:
Tips to Help Avoid the Danger of Grain Entrapment and EngulfmentEntrapment and engulfment incidents in grain bins are avoidable. The best prevention
for grain engulfment is to avoid entering the grain bin.However, flowing grain incidents may also occur when loading and unloading trucks
and bins, when surface crusts collapse and when steep or vertical grain piles collapse.
A fact sheet available from your county Extension office, Grain Bin Entrapment and Engulfment Causes, Prevention and Rescue, has additional suggestions related to grain bin handling safety. Following are a
few tips that might help producers avoid the danger of grain entrapment and engulfment:
Grain Bin Entrapment Rescue TechniqueRemember, entrapped persons need immediate help. It is much easier to help and successfully
rescue the trapped person if you have an accident response plan. The trapped person
should contact the helper waiting outside the bin immediately. It should be mentioned
that pulling a trapped person from grain could be very difficult due to the friction
forces transferred from the grain to the trapped person’s body.Therefore, it is not advisable to winch a person from grain if the person is buried
deeper than knee deep. This may cause joint dislocation, paralysis and other severe
injuries. The grain must be removed from around the person to get him/her out. This
can be done by creating a cofferdam around the person and bailing out grain with a
vacuum or bucket. Grain cofferdams can be constructed by driving sheets of plywood
around the person. They can also be constructed using plastic barrels. Currently,
there are several commercially available grain rescue tubes. These tubes have linking
pieces that are connected and driven into the grain to create a cofferdam. Commercial
rescue tubes typically have steps on the inside to assist the victim in climbing out
of the grain.
Confined Space EntryEven a small amount of spoiled grain can produce millions of tiny mold spores, which
easily become airborne when disturbed. Airborne mold spores can be inhaled through
the nose and mouth, irritating sensitive lung tissue and, in some individuals, causing reactions
so severe that hospitalization is necessary.
Farmers working without respiratory protection inside a bin or other grain storage
facility in which moldy grain is present are especially vulnerable to mold reactions.
When handling any grain where mold damage is present, the use of an appropriate respirator
is essential. This applies even to truckers, scale operators and those supervising
the dumping operations at an elevator.
After exposure to high concentrations of mold spores, it is important to change clothing
(or use disposable overalls) to avoid bringing the mold spores home and exposing family
members. If you do become ill after exposure to moldy grain, consult a physician and
make him or her aware of your activities. Medical attention may be necessary in some
Storage and handling of large volumes of grain or feed on farms is common in many
areas. Automated equipment has made handling of grain easy and fast. But, grain storage
structures and handling equipment create hazardous work areas. Farm workers should
make sure they take the proper steps to put safety first to prevent injuries, illnesses
and even death.
Grain Storage Structures and Handling Equipment Safety
Grain bin suffocation accidents,from entrapment or engulfment, are reminders that
grain storage, especially flowing grain, may become very dangerous. This fact sheet
discusses crucial information related to grain entrapment and engulfment with extra
focus on their causes, prevention and rescue. The term entrapment is used when a grain
bin worker becomes buried in the grain beyond the point of self-extraction. On the
other hand, the term engulfment is used when a grain bin worker is completely buried
or submerged beneath the surface of the grain.
Grain Bin Safety
Augers are very useful tools for handling and moving products on the farm. They save
a great deal of time and physical labor. Unfortunately, injuries such as broken bones,
cuts, amputations, electrocutions and even loss of life can occur from contact with
parts of augers in operation or during transport. Becoming entangled in the auger,
being trapped under a collapsed or overturned portable auger or being struck by a
spinning elevation crank are just a few of the potential dangers of operating augers.
Safe Operation of On-Farm Augers
Have questions? Contact: