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grain bins 022221February 21-27 is Grain Bin Safety Week

KANKAKEE – Senate Agriculture Chairman Patrick Joyce (D-Essex) is joining the Illinois Department of Agriculture in reminding farmers and farm workers to be cautious when working in and around grain bins.

“This week is dedicated to raising awareness of hazards and safe work practices to reduce the number of accidents associated with grain handling and storage,” Joyce said. “I urge farmers to slow down and be safe to prevent a tragedy.”

Joyce says moving grain acts like quicksand and a worker standing on moving grain can be trapped within just five seconds and completely covered in grain in less than half a minute.

Three of the most common scenarios leading to grain entrapment include:

  • A worker stands on moving or flowing grain, typically caused by an auger running or grain being moved out of the bin by gravity.
  • A worker stands on or below a grain bridging situation. Bridging happens when damp grain clumps together, creating an empty space beneath the grain as it is unloaded. A worker above or below this bridge of grain is at risk should the bridge collapse.
  • A worker stands next to an accumulated pile of grain on the side of the bin and attempts to dislodge it. It can collapse onto the worker.

While workers should avoid entering grain bins if possible, safety measures can greatly diminish the risk if they must enter. Workers entering a grain bin wear a body harness attached to a lifeline, and an observer should be stationed outside the bin to track the worker and call for help if something goes wrong.

Joyce suggests farm workers attend regular safety trainings as a reminder to utilize best practices while working in and around grain bins. Online training resources are also available from the Grain and Feed Association of Illinois, the Grain and Safety Council, and the University of Illinois Extension.