Is Your Farm Grain Safe?
January 21, 2021

Grain handling is a common, day-to-day farm job, but it’s not one that should be taken lightly.

Careful attention is required when working in and around today’s big bins, which is why the Canadian Agricultural Safety Association (CASA) encourages all farmers to have a safety plan that identifies potential risks, hazards and responses.

“It’s important that producers develop some of these procedures, particularly now that we’re not talking about bins that are 12 feet in diameter and hold 1,500 bushels,” said Glen Blahey, Agricultural Safety and Health Specialist with CASA.

“We’re talking about some bins that are 135 feet in diameter and hold half a million bushels of grain. We want to make sure that those bins are secured and people going in them can manage them.”

How Entrapment Occurs

Grain entrapment is a serious safety concern that can occur when someone enters a bin and grain begins to move:

  • An individual is present on the surface grain, which is being drawn out from beneath the individual.
  • An individual attempts to walk across the surface of grain where a void exists beneath the surface.
  • An individual is in a grain storage facility where grain has solidified onto the walls of the bin and then the wall of grain collapses onto the individual.

Bin Safety

Proper grain conditioning is an important safety consideration. After all, if your grain is in good shape, you don’t have to enter the bin at all.

If, however, you do have to enter a bin, you should never do so alone. Always work with a watch person outside the bin who has access to a radio or cellphone.

“In an ideal world, as long as you can stabilize the person and keep them from being further submerged in the grain, you can call your emergency response people and they will come and they will handle the rescue,” said Blahey.

“But in the short term, it’s the actions that you take upfront to protect that person that are critical in the minutes before the trained people arrive.”

Safety Tips

  • The person inside the bin should always be equipped with a five-point rescue harness.
  • If you’re unloading grain and an incident occurs, the person outside the bin should immediately turn the auger or conveyor off. If possible, turn aeration fans on, which can provide the entrapped person with oxygen.
  • Let emergency responders handle the rescue. It can take several hundred pounds of force to remove an entrapped individual, who can be seriously injured during extraction.

Promoting Education

To promote on-farm safety, CASA has developed a grain safety program and mobile demonstration unit. The unit, which shows how an individual can be quickly engulfed in grain, has been touring major farm shows in Western Canada.

CASA is also launching a new initiative to provide on-site training to growers, rural fire departments and first responders.

For more information about CASA’s Be Grain Safe program, see

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