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Grain Bin Safety Urged After Indiana Death

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As many Hoosier grain handling facility workers prepare for this year’s harvest, employers and employees are being reminded of how to stay safe. A 59-year-old Veedersburg man in west central Indiana died after being pulled into a grain bin Wednesday. The Indiana Department of Labor says people working in or near grain handling facilities should never work alone because they are exposed to significant hazards that include falls, electrocution, engulfment, auger entanglement and dust explosions.
“The safety of our farm workers should always be of paramount importance to our Indiana farm businesses,” noted Commissioner Sean Keefer. “It is especially important to recognize the dangers of working in and around grain bins and take all necessary precautions.”
Information provided by the Indiana Department of Labor:
Prevent falls: Provide all employees with a body harness and lifeline, or a boatswains chair, and ensure it is properly secured before entering a grain bin.
Prevent electrocution/auger entanglement: Before grain bin or silo entry, shut down and lock out all equipment power sources. Station an observer outside the bin or silo to continuously monitor and track the employee inside the bin.
Prevent engulfment: Prohibit employees from walking-down the grain or using similar practices to make the grain flow. Prohibit entry into bins or silos underneath a bridging condition or where there is a build-up of grain products on side walls that could shift and bury a worker.
Prevent dust explosions: Prior to any entry, test the air within a bin or silo for the presence of combustible and toxic gases and make sure there is sufficient oxygen for safe entry.
Employers and employees are strongly encouraged to learn about safe grain handling procedures and take necessary precautions for the prevention of work-related injuries and fatalities.
Upon entry into the top of a silo or bin:
  1. Never work alone during any entry of a silo or bin.
  2. Turn off the auger and lock out the shut-off switch.
  3. Turn on the aerator.
  4. Conduct a pre-use inspection on all rescue equipment. Have all rescue equipment readily available for immediate use.
  5. Ensure the silo or grain bin entrant is wearing the appropriate personal protective equipment—dust mask, safety glasses, rescue harness, etc.
  6. Ensure all workers are familiar with the communication procedures and within communication distance. 
  7. Ensure tie off at an adequate anchor point. Make sure there is enough rope to travel up the ladder and into the silo to attach to the harness and employee.
  8. Place an employee attendee at the top of the silo or bin and another at the base of the ladder at the anchor point.
  9. Never allow slack on the lifeline.
  10. In the event of entrapment at or above waist level: 
    1. Train the entrant to cover his or her face with his or her shirt or dust mask.
    2. Never attempt to rescue the entrapped employee from the top of the bin or silo.  Implement Emergency Action Plan procedures.
Entrapment or engulfment procedures:
  1. Turn off the auger and lock out the shut-off switch.
  2. Turn on the aerator.
  3. Call 911.
  4. If the victim is within reach, without entering the bin, place a rescue sleeve around the victim. If a rescue sleeve is not available, place any flat, hard surface material (i.e. plywood, sheet metal, etc.) at the face of the victim.
For questions about worker safety and health, please contact the Indiana onsite OSHA consultation program, INSafe, at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or (317) 232-2688.
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