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Procedures for safe grain bin entry

Learn about safety procedures and equipment recommendations for safe bin entry.

Pristine grain management is the key to preventing the need to enter a grain bin. However, that’s not the reality many farmers and operators can reasonably maintain.

It's important to learn about items on the market that can help reduce the need to enter a grain bin, the items required for safe grain bin entry, and where to purchase them.

The National Education Center for Agricultural Safety (NECAS) and Nationwide do not endorse one product over another. Please do your own research before you purchase to determine the products that best align to the safety of your operation. 

What if grain bin entry is absolutely necessary?

If you've determined that grain bin entry is required, utilize these guidelines to help ensure your safety:

  1. Monitor air quality: Use an air monitor to make sure there is at least 19.5% oxygen within the bin. If 19.5% is not available, the bin must be ventilated for at least an hour and ventilation must be maintained during the duration of entry to make sure the oxygen level remains at the required levels.
     
  2. Ensure Lock out/Tag out: The power to the auger must be turned off and locked out and tagged out to be sure it can’t be turned on while someone is in the bin. If you are in a bin with the auger turned on you can be pulled in to your waist in 15 seconds and completely submerged in 30 seconds.
     
  3. Use a body harness: Everyone entering a bin needs to be tied off and wearing a full body harness.This will ensure the person going into the bin is secure and limits the distance they can fall into the bin or become trapped.
     
  4. Never enter alone: Entering a bin is a minimum two-person job. The person entering the bin and a reliable attendant outside the space whose one and only job is to watch the person in the bin. If the person in the bin becomes unresponsive or trapped, the attendant should not enter the bin, but call for emergency services. Last year, 60% of the people who died in a confined space were would-be rescuers. The fire department responding will also need the attendant to identify which bin the person is trapped in.

Product designed to avoid entering grain bins

The Sump Saver is a piece of equipment mounted on top of the sump. It is powered by a hydraulic motor that produces 6,000 inch/pound of torque and operates in both forward or reverse. It installs quickly alongside any style or model of power sweep.

Equipment and associated costs:


Safety equipment

  • Lock Out Tag Out:  $35-300

Personal protective equipment

  • Harness: $150 - 400
  • Safety line: $2/ft
  • Mechanical winch (Personnel-rated: $2k
  • Gloves: $10
  • Eye protection – safety glasses, safety goggles, full face shield: $5 - 50

Respiratory equipment

  • Full face mask: $200
  • Canister – dust: $50; Ph3: $100
  • Half mask: $20
  • Dust filter: $5

Atmospheric monitoring equipment

  • Oxygen meter: $200 - 300
  • Combustible gas meter: $800 - 2500

Illumination

  • Drop light, flash light (class II-G for grain dust): $30 - 50

Rescue equipment (you or your local responder)

  • Rescue wall: $3k
  • Rescue auger: $800
  • Platforms: $20/ea
  • Harness – Rescue: $300- 500

Shop locally or visit kcsupply.com or gemplers.com for more information.