Protect workers from grain bin suffocation
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is bringing attention to the hazards of grain handling and states that suffocation is the leading cause of death in grain bins. Employees can be buried or trapped by grain within seconds, and a lack of oxygen or hazardous gases can quickly overcome a worker in a grain bin.
Workers who enter bins can be exposed to suffocation hazards or engulfed by grain in several ways, including:
• Standing on moving or flowing grain that can behave like "quicksand"
• Remaining on or below a "bridging" condition that could collapse
• Trying to loosen a pile of grain that results in a cave-in
• Insufficient oxygen and toxic gases can develop in grain bins
OSHA recommends using the following measures to help reduce injuries and deaths in the event a grain bin must be entered by a worker:
• Disconnect, lockout tagout, or block off electrical, hydraulic, and pneumatic equipment when it is not in use.
• Prevent workers from walking down grain to make it flow
• Prohibit worker entry onto or below a bridging condition
• Provide each worker entering a bin at or above the stored grain level, a fall protection harness and lifeline, or boatswain's chair
• Train workers on the hazards, safety procedures, and equipment used when working in grain bins
• Offer employees confined space equipment specifically designed for rescue
• Train a worker to be an observer and who is required to provide assistance and perform rescue operations outside the bin
• Ensure communications are maintained between the observer and employees who enter and exit the bins
• Use gas monitors to test the air within a bin for oxygen content and toxic gases before entry and provide ventilation or the appropriate respiratory protection when necessary
• Issue required entry permits
Protect workers that need to enter grain bins with the proper training and equipment.