Grain Bin Safety Tips

Grain bins are no place to become trapped. You might be in a hurry to fill a grain truck, the grain stops flowing for some reason, and you go inside the bin to get it moving again. Once it does, your body will be engulfed in less than a minute. You will be covered even faster if you break through a horizontal crust on the surface at the top of the bin and fall into the moving grain.

Chip Petrea is a principal research specialist in ag safety and health at the University of Illinois. He says there’s a similar hazard when grain has crusted vertically inside the bin, creating a sloping pile.

"It seems reasonable to go into the bin at the bottom to help it along because once you move some of that grain on the bottom it’s likely to cascade down, but then again that’s the problem," says Petrea. "If you’re in a 50,000-bushel bin and you start moving some at the bottom then it will cascade down on you. Depending on how much is there, it could become an entrapment."

Petrea recommends breaking up crusted grain from the outside of the bin with a long pole.

"These long ones that they sell that have the little saws on the end of them for trimming trees are a good thing to use because you can extend it out fairly far so you don’t have to get in the bin," he says. "It’s always recommended that there be someone there with you, and if you decide to go in then the recommendation is that you have a full harness and be tied off with some way to hold you in place should it start to cascade."

He says it’s very important for everyone working around grain bins to have proper training.