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Worker Safety In Grain Facilities
Updated April 21, 2015 7:27 AM | Filed under: Agriculture
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(INDIANAPOLIS) - Following last week's injury of four employees in a LaPorte County grain elevator explosion, the Indiana Department of Labor reminds employers and employees about grain handling facility hazards and how to prevent occupational injuries and fatalities.

This most recent incident underscores the need for safety procedures for working in grain facilities. The grain handling industry is a high hazard industry where workers can be exposed to serious and life threatening hazards including fires and explosions from grain dust accumulation, suffocation from engulfment and entrapment in grain bins, falls from heights and crushing injuries, and amputations from grain handling equipment.

Grain bins across the U.S. have killed more than 180 people and injured more than 675 since 1980. Grain dust is highly flammable and is the number one cause of grain bin explosions.

"The safety of our farm workers is of paramount importance to our Indiana agriculture industry," said Commissioner Rick J. Ruble. "Grain handling facilities can be dangerous, and workers must recognize the dangers and take all necessary precautions."

Employees working in or near grain handling facilities should never work alone. Working with a partner ensures help is always near.

Additionally, employers and employees can reduce the likelihood of worker injury, illness, or death by taking the following precautions:

Prevent dust explosions - Prior to entry, test the air within a bin or silo for the presence of combustible and toxic gases. Make sure there is sufficient oxygen for safe entry.

Prevent falls - Provide all employees with a body harness and lifeline or boatswains chair. Ensure these items are properly secured before entering a grain bin.

Prevent electrocution and auger entanglement - Before grain bin or silo entry, shut down and lock out all equipment power sources. Station an observer outside the bin or silo to monitor and track continuously the employee inside the bin.

Prevent engulfment - Prohibit employees from walking-down the grain or using similar practices to make the grain flow. Prohibit entry into bins or silos underneath a bridging condition or where grain product has built up on side walls. This grain could shift and bury a worker.

Employers and employees are encouraged to learn about safe grain handling procedures and to take the necessary precautions. To learn more about safe grain handling practices, visit

For questions about worker safety and health, contact INSafe, the Indiana onsite OSHA consultation program, at or (317) 232-2688.

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