Bridged grain safety measures

Bridged grain hazards are present in all grain handling facilities. Use these safety tips to help protect your business and employees.

Overhead loading and bridged grain

Bridged grain is a dangerous problem for grain operators who rely on overhead loading to move grain out of storage. Removing the bridged grain near an overhead spout is not the main problem; rather it is not having a clear plan to safely remove the bridge. Grain operators cannot place the priority of the problem ahead of safety – if the grain bridge removal becomes more important than doing it safety, then the outcome of the operation will be in doubt.

Building an effective grain bridge removal plan

According to Bob Aherin, University of Illinois Extension Agricultural Safety Specialist, it takes less than five seconds for a person caught in flowing grain to be trapped and just a few seconds more to become completely engulfed. Flowing grain kills, and it kills quickly. Having a plan that addresses how to safely remove bridged grain from overhead spouts must be job one. There is no alternative that will provide the safest possible outcome for all grain operators.

An effective grain bridge removal plan must address:

  • locking out all forms of hazardous energy to prevent the flow of grain
  • operating safely within a confined space
  • not working alone. 

The possibility of becoming entrapped or engulfed in grain exists when attempting to unplug grain and/or placing one’s body in a potential confined space. If one becomes entangled or trapped, there is the possibility of asphyxiation, suffocation or exposure to a hazardous atmosphere.  

Additional personnel is key to safety

Small single-manned grain operations or those with seasonal staff face a challenge when bridged grain arises and they need to perform a timely load-out of grain. Determining how to meet the potential need for additional personnel in these situations is key. Having the operational attitude that places safety first and task second will ensure you will find a way for help when problems arise.

Communicate often, wait for help

The most important aspect of grain loading and dealing with bridged grain is to have frequent communications with your support networks – family, trusted employees or your spouse and children. The removal of bridged grain is a crucial process to be handled quickly so that loading can continue. However, no grain-related issue is so important that you cannot wait until help arrives. Ensure your safety by utilizing common sense and constant vigilance.