There is only one sure way to prevent grain engulfment accidents — eliminate reasons for entering a grain bin in the first place
The Grain Handling Safety Coalition (CHSC) recommends taking these five steps to achieve a zero entry goal:
1. Manage grain to prevent spoilage. The most common reason victims enter bins is to address problems associated with spoiled grain. Spoiled grain forms solid masses, crusts, and horizontal grain bridges and vertical grain walls that can collapse. Spoiled grain plugs augers and conveyors, necessitating entry into the structure to unplug or free the clogged equipment. To reduce the likelihood of grain spoilage, keep aeration equipment in working order and check the structure before the storage season to identify and fix roof leaks.
2. Store grain at the correct moisture content and temperature to prevent conditions favorable for grain to spoil and clump together. Aerate to cool grain quickly at the time of storage, remove the core of fines that is most prone to spoilage, and monitor for pests, off-odors, hot spots, and moisture content to help prevent spoilage.
3. Work from outside the bin. If clumps or crusts develop in the grain, use a pole from outside the bin to probe or knock the clump free.
4. Restrict access to bins, storage structures, and outdoor grain storage piles. Post signage and lock access doors so unauthorized persons, bystanders, and youth cannot enter.
5. Post signage warning of hazards. Post signage at all entry points to bins, outdoor storage piles, and other storage structures that warns of potential for engulfment and requires any entry to be done by trained workers following safe procedures.
Since it may be unrealistic to say that you will never ever have to enter a grain bin again, CSHC recommends that everyone plan ahead for when entry is absolutely necessary.
• Provide training. Train workers on grain storage hazards and risks involved with entering a grain storage bin or facility. Training should include recognizing grain quality problems, entry procedures, use of safety equipment, and emergency response, before allowing access to a bin or storage structure. Training should be provided at regular intervals, not just upon hiring or once a year.
• Have an emergency rescue plan in place and follow it. The plan should include having cell phones on site, emergency numbers posted for local emergency responders trained in bin rescue, and prevention of untrained "would-be rescuers" who could increase grain pressure on a victim or even become engulfed themselves. Shut down all grain loading and unloading equipment and lock out the power sources to them. * If mechanical and pneumatic grain moving equipment cannot be locked out, do not enter.
• Never enter a bin where the upper level of grain along the wall is above the entrant’s position inside; if grain is hung up on a side wall; or if the angle of stored grain exceeds the angle of repose.
• Never enter alone. Two outside observers must be present to monitor entry and assist by regulating a lifeline tether. One attendant must maintain constant visual monitoring of the entrant and have a system of communication worked out before entry (hand signals).
• Use fall restraint equipment that is properly anchored. This consists of a full body harness attached to an anchored line, which limits the distance the person can drop or fall in the event that grain shifts or a grain bridge collapses. The lifeline must be secured to a sidewall anchor (not the interior ladder) or a fixed point outside the bin to prevent the entrant from sinking more than waist deep into grain. One attendant monitors and feeds the lifeline to the entrant. Never allow anyone who has not been trained to enter a bin.