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Entries » Blog » What are the safety hazards in your grain handling facilities, and how are you protecting your workers?

Denny Petrovich |

What are the safety hazards in your grain handling facilities, and how are you protecting your workers?

The grain handling industry is an industry where workers are exposed to hazardous conditions on a daily basis.  These conditions are very serious and can be life-threatening.  They include:

  • Falls from heights
  • Fires and explosions from grain dust accumulation
  • Amputations and serious injuries from grain handling equipment
  • Suffocation from engulfment and entrapment in grain bins

Falls from heights can occur from a variety of areas throughout the facility, including machinery, roofs, structures, bins, unguarded holes/catwalks, and ladders.  As a result, many standards have been put in place to prevent falls from occurring.

Another cause of property damage and the loss of life stems from grain dust explosions.  As grain dust is highly combustible and the main source of fuel for an explosion, the dust only needs to find an ignition source, such as a hot bearing or an overheated motor, in order to explode.  Since explosions occur frequently across the globe, there have been many standards put in place to reduce the number of incidents.  

Mechanical equipment, such as augers or conveyors, can present serious bodily harm as well.  Since workers can easily get their limbs caught in improperly guarded equipment, standards have been put in place to show the proper ways to guard your bulk material handling equipment. 

The most life-threatening hazard is caused by suffocation from engulfment in the grain bins.  This occurs when a worker is buried by grain when walking on moving grain or attempting to clear the build up on the inside of a bin.  Due to its lethal nature, the standards are very strict to protect workers from even entering these areas without proper equipment or precautions.

Are you practicing the appropriate safety standards to prevent these disasters from happening?

These standards are addressed in the OSHA standard for grain handling facilities (29 CFR 1910.272) and focus on reducing employee risks by requiring employers to follow these practices every day.  In addition to OSHA, the Grain Elevator " Processing Society is a great resource for knowledge from professionals in the field; they also provide courses to help educate on many topics.

In my next blog post, I’ll show how automating some of the grain handling process can make for a safer environment.  Even better news: it can increase your capacity, too.

How do you provide for a safe working environment in grain handling?

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