Keep Bin Safety Top-of-Mind this Harvest

AGI SureTrack Team

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Higher moisture corn and soybeans going into the grain bin this fall may be the culprits responsible for hindering safety as farmers struggle to manage the crops in both the long and short-term.

The magic date, October 10th, as determined by the crop scouts in the Midwest Crop Tour, was reached, as were growing degree unit requirements for the majority of the country. Unfortunately, dent doesn’t equal maturity, and for most hybrids, an additional three to four weeks post-dent is required to meet physiological maturity. It didn’t happen, and the crops being augured into on-farm storage this fall reflect that absence of maturity in the moisture content they are holding.

It is going to be a struggle to keep both corn and soybeans in condition this year; bridges, mold, clogging and crusting will be an issue, if precautions aren’t taken. And the temptation to manage these obstacles from inside the bin will be greater, as well.

Please don’t.

It only takes a few seconds to change your life and less than a minute to end it; no amount of grain or money is worth that risk.

A 2014 publication by Pennsylvania State University Extension, discusses grain entrapment, as well as the precautions and safety measures growers can take to remain safe, both in and out of the bin.

“Out of condition grain is the number one cited factor in grain entrapment,” says Davis Hill, senior extension specialist for the university, “and one in five entrapments involve children.”
Hill says that in less than one minute of becoming entrapped a person can become engulfed in grain and suffocate.

“When you are trapped by grain and exhale to breathe, the grain flows into the space created by the movement of your chest, placing pressure on your chest and reducing the space that your lungs have to expand during your next inhalation,” he says, “Each time you exhale a breath, the space around your chest decreases.”

The immense pressure that results from entrapment happens almost instantaneously in many instances, with the entrapped submerging more than six feet in mere 25 seconds or less. And because of the weight of the grain – for perspective, one bushel weighs 56 pounds – it is nearly impossible to pull someone free from entrapment without help and mechanical assistance. As the picture below shows, it takes 900 pounds of force to pull a 165-pound person who is submerged to a six foot depth.

Aside from the force needed to free a person, the physical effects of exerting that much force on the human body would undoubtedly be fatal.

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A somber thought. And one AGI SureTrack sincerely prays never effects another family.
“I have been involved in five entrapments in my lifetime,” AGI SureTrack founder, Todd Sears, shared at a recent AGI SureTrack grain bin safety event where the grain entrapment film, Silo, was shown. “What I can tell you is that those farm families will never be the same.”

Sears went on to say that with the technology available in the agriculture industry today, keeping grain in condition is do-able, even in a challenging year.

“I’m not here to sell anything. We didn’t host this event tonight as a sales pitch. We hosted this event because one life lost to grain entrapment is one too many. We have more technology available in agriculture than ever before; no matter who you’re buying a bin management system from, please consider something that helps you manage your grain from outside the bin.”

Echoing Todd’s sentiment, this isn’t a sales post, either. We have provided a link to BinManager and share that it is a zero-entry solution.

We do, however, want to share the checklist of precautions and safety measures Hill recommends all grain storage personnel familiarize themselves with:

  • Place entrapment warning decals on grain bins and grain transport vehicles.
  • Prevent unauthorized entry to grain bins and grain transport vehicles, especially by children.
  • Make sure all workers and children are aware of entrapment hazards.
  • Keep grain in proper condition. This may include the use of mechanical stirrers to prevent the grain from molding. Remember, out of condition grain was cited as the leading cause of adult entrapments.
  • Use inspection holes or grain bin level markers instead of entering a grain bin.
  • Enter a grain bin or grain transport vehicle only if it is absolutely necessary. Use a body harness secured to the outside of the bin or vehicle.
  • Use a pole to break up possible grain bridges from outside the bin.
  • Lockout/Tag-out all auger controls before entering a bin.
  • Have at least two observers present during grain bin entry.
  • Establish a form of nonverbal communication with observers (hand signals).
  • Work from top to bottom when cleaning grain bin walls.