Grain storage and handling facilities present a number of dangers to the farm worker. These hazards include entanglement in augers, electrocution from nearby power lines, entrapment in flowing grain, and respiratory illness caused by dusts and molds. Of those, entrapment is the leading cause of grain-handling fatalities.
Working with flowing grain is dangerous. It takes less than five seconds for grain to submerge you to your knees in grain, rendering you helpless. The flow of grain caused by the unloader only needs to remove a volume of grain equivalent to that of your body's (5 to 7 cubic feet) in order to submerge you completely. With an average flow, this can take only 15 to 20 seconds. Accidents also take place when someone enters a grain bin to dislodge a bridge of grain. As the bridge collapses grain flows to fill the cavity, creating a danger for entrapment. Once trapped in the flow, the victim is drawn to the bin floor and suffocates.
Follow these safety rules when working around bins:
Never enter a grain bin while the unloader or gravity flow gate is operating.
Make it a policy never to walk on a stored grain surface. Bridged grain can be cleared by using a pole, while remaining outside.
If entry is required, shut off the unloading equipment and lock it to prevent anyone from inadvertently turning it back on. Wear an appropriate dust filter and a body harness tied to a safety rope. Have someone, preferably two people, on the outside ready to provide assistance. Stay near the outer wall of the bin and keep walking if grain begins to flow. Get to the bin ladder as quickly as possible. If necessary, keep walking until the flow stops or the bin is empty.
Keep children and visitors away from grain bins, wagons and grain trucks.