Gravity Flow Wagon Safety
Gravity flow wagons are used to move grain from the field to storage bins. A full wagon can be a death trap to a person who climbs on or falls into it. As the grain auger empties the load downward through the wagon’s trap door, it takes only seconds to be pulled under by the suction and suffocated by the grain.
Chip Petrea is a principal research specialist in ag safety and health at the University of Illinois. He says the typical victim is a boy, around age 11. They’re big enough to climb the ladder, are curious, and may have played in grain before.
"Kids are attracted to noise up to a certain level so if they’re unaccustomed to it, then that can be an attraction from the grain auger. Then if they see the grain flowing, it could lead to okay, let’s crawl up and play in it while it’s flowing," says Petrea. "Unfortunately, we have had some instances where the person really didn’t know that there was a child in there until they saw a foot or a hand come out the door."
If you see someone fall into the grain, immediately shut the door to stop the flow of grain and get them out. If they’re already sinking, it may not be too late.
"If you see a hand that’s going down then perhaps the fastest thing is to simply open the gate wide open and then you run into the problem of needing to get the grain out of the way," he says. "But since that’s where they’re going, if you can shovel the grain out of the way fast enough then you might be able to get them out through the door because the doors are fairly large."
Never let kids ride or play on the wagon when it’s bringing in a load of grain.