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I written in the past about local Minnesota farmers that were found dead or rescued from gain bins. It if horrific to think what happens when they are trapped in grain bins.

Since 2006 there have been 12 deaths in Minnesota as the result of grain bin accidents. According to the National Safety Council, farming is one of the most dangerous occupations in the United States. More than 700 farmers and ranchers die in work-related accidents, and another 120,000 agricultural workers suffer disabling injuries from work-related accidents each year.

A Purdue University report showed 51 grain bin accidents last year, up from 38 in 2009 and the most since tracking began in 1978. Twenty-five people died, and five of them were children under age 16. The previous record for grain bin accidents was 42 in 1993. As a result the Occupational Safety and Health Administration has been sending letters out warning of the danger to bin operators.

The University of Illinois Extension has the following suggestions:

Whenever possible, don’t enter a grain bin. If you must enter the bin, as a farm owner/operator you should:

  • Break up crusted grain from the outside of the bin with a long pole. When using a pole, check to see that it doesn’t come into contact with electric lines.

  • Wear a harness attached to a properly secured rope.

  • Stay near the outer wall of the bin and keep walking if the grain should start to flow. Get to the bin ladder or safety rope as quickly as possible.

  • Have another person, preferably two people, outside the bin who can help if you become entrapped. These people should be trained in rescue procedures and should know and follow safety procedures for entering the confined space.

  • Grain fines and dust may cause difficulty in breathing. Anyone working in a grain bin, especially for the purpose of cleaning the bin, should wear an appropriate dust filter or filter respirator.

  • Stay out of grain bins, wagons and grain trucks when unloading equipment is running.

  • If it is necessary to enter the bin, remember to shut off the power to augers and fans. It is a good idea to lock out any unloading equipment before you enter a bin to prevent someone from unintentionally starting the equipment while you are in the bin.

  • Children should not be allowed to play in or around grain bins, wagons or truck beds.

  • Where possible, ladders should be installed inside grain bins to for an emergency exit. Ladders are easier to locate inside a dusty bin if there are brightly painted stripes just above or behind the ladder.

Hopefully, the letters and increase awareness will make for a much safer 2011.

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