Farmer invents DIY solution to remove grain bin clogs

I came across an article which describes DIY system for unclogging grain bin augers from outside of the bin. This is a big deal in terms of improving safety, since entering a grain bin to remove clogs is one of the most dangerous tasks on the farm. With the wet weather this year and the late harvest, wet grain and clogs have been a huge problem this year. It seems like hardly a week has gone by lately where I haven’t seen an article about someone becoming trapped in a grain bin, and way too often these incidents have been fatal.

The DIY solution for clearing a clog from the outside was designed by Guy Mills, a Nebraska farmer. His solution uses a hose, a steel pipe, two elbow joints, and a heavy duty (250cfm) compressor to blow the clogs out/apart a few inches at a time. While most compressors that you would use to say put air in tires or operate drills don’t have that kind of pressure, most rental places have them for less than $50 a day. The compressor really packs a punch though, so if your bin is older use caution so that you don’t accidentally cause damage in the process of removing clogs. Also since this solution uses compressed air at very high pressures/velocities be extremely careful that the components you choose and your assembly methods are able to handle the pressure and follow all safety recommendations for the compressor itself.

Here is the link to the original article which gives more detailed instructions on how to build and use the de-clogger:

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Grain Engulfment Near-Miss

Today I’m sharing an article from Farm Progress about a farmer who survived being engulfed in a grain bin. There have been several fatal engulfments already this year, and as the article states around 50% of engulfments are fatal. The main factors that made this case a near miss were that other people were working nearby. No one should enter a grain bin without a second person there who is not in the grain and can get help, but fortunately in this case there were at least other people within earshot. Since the farmer’s leg was low enough in the bin that it was near the auger, it also sounds like the bin wasn’t full enough to completely submerge him. A third factor that helped was that the fire department was able to respond quickly and had a grain rescue system. More and more fire departments are investing in plastic barricades that help more grain from falling in and grain vacuums, plus the training to use them properly. However, there are still many rural fire departments who aren’t ready to respond to an engulfment.

Anyone who is cleaning and refilling bins needs to be especially careful given the late planting and wet conditions so far this year. Wet grain is more likely to form crusts which can either cause a hollow space to form under a surface layer resulting in a fall-through type engulfment or to cause grain to stick to the sides of the bin resulting in an avalanche-style engulfment. Engulfments are preventable. The UMASH grain safety checklist (link provided below) is a good starting point. Developing bin entry procedures that are appropriate to the type of bin being used and following them every single time someone enters the bin is key to preventing engulfment. Keeping kids out of grain bins is also important. A lot of kids are tempted by the idea of climbing and playing in grain so it is important to be sure that they don’t have access to bins or ladders.

Here is the link to the UMASH grain safety checklist:

For the original article by farm progress click here:

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Extra Harvest Hazards Anticipated this Fall

Today I’m sharing an article from AgWeb explaining how harvest this year might be even more hazardous than usual. A lot of crops were planted late this year. This means that moisture content will be higher, which increases the risk of mold and the risk that grain will stick to the sides of bins and equipment, which could create additional engulfment and equipment hazards. Late planting also means later harvest, which in turn means that more people will be on the road during sunset (which tends to be the most dangerous time to move equipment) and after dark. Pushing harvest later also makes it more likely that farmers will have to deal with frost damage and snow.

While a later harvest can’t be helped, there are things that farmers can do to deal with the extra hazards that come with it. It’s difficult to be patient, especially with winter weather coming, but the more you can wait for grain to be properly dry, the more you can avoid the group of hazards that go with wet grain, plus you’ll save on drying costs. Always follow proper grain bin entry procedures, including wearing a harness, not working in the bin alone, and wearing proper respirtory protection. If your grain is running really far behind, consider other options like making silage rather than trying to force it in if it isn’t going to be ready. Make sure that equipment lighting and slow moving vehicle signs on harvest equipment are good to go now, and consider adding additional lighting or some of the newer slow moving vehicle signs that are more reflective. The conditions this year have been far from ideal, but a little bit of preparation will help deal with some of the hazards that come with a late harvest.

You can see the original article here:

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Upcoming Film Based on Illinois Grain Engulfment Case

An independent film company is working on a feature-length film about a grain engulfment that took place in 2010 in Mount Carroll Illinois.  Wyatt Whitebread, 14, and Alex Pacas, 19, died after becoming  engulfed in a corn bin while on the job.  A third victim Will Piper, 20, was rescued. The case led to major changes in regulations for bin entry and teenage employees in the grain industry. I was able to hear Annette Pacas, Alex’s mom, speak at a conference a few years ago.  Her presentation made a huge impression on me about how preventable these kinds of tragedies are and how much work is needed to improve safety in ag.

The film team has produced a 10 minute version of the film to promote the production of the feature length film. You can view the short version  here.  University of Kentucky’s Southeast Center for Agricultural Safety and Injury Prevention is also developing a study guide to go with the feature length film aimed at highschool level ag classes and FFA programs.

Click here to see the original article about the film by Illinois Farmer
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Safety Tech: Harness for outside of grain bin/silo

I found a harness system by Northern Strands designed for the outside of grain bins. A lot of grain bin safety programs focus on safety inside the bin, but safety outside is important as well.  A coworker of one of my classmates in the ag safety program was severely injured because he was electrocuted while repairing part of a bin’s electrical system then fell. A harness like this would have prevented some his worst injuries!  The system costs between $300-$400 dollars, which is cheaper than installing a cage around the ladder or switching to a stair system, and in some ways is safer because it’s guaranteed to stop you from falling more than a few feet.  I’d imagine that this system would work well for silo ladders too.  If you’re interested in learning more, click here to visit their website.

Grain Safety for Kids

Today I’m sharing some kid’s grain safety materials from the National Agricultural Safety Database. The materials include a background section for adults describing the risks of grain handling, a series of demos that can be used to show the dangers of grain handling, and puzzle activity pages that can be printed out.  (click here to see NASD’s grain safety for kids page).  Tragically up to 20% of farm fatalities are children (source).  While the most common sources of fatal injuries are falls/runnovers from tractors and ATVS and drowning, every year several children are killed due to grain entrapment, and many more have near-misses.  Kids are more likely to become entrapped in grain wagons than grain bins, and children visiting farms are at higher risk than children who live on farms.  If there are children living on or visiting your farm, make sure that they don’t have access to grain handling areas and equipment, and that they know it’s not safe to play in the grain.  The demo with the toy grain wagon listed on the website is really good at showing just how quickly you can become trapped. I found a video of the demo too, but it is definitely more impressive in person!

Video: Overview of Grain Bin Safety

Today I’m sharing a video that provides a detailed overview of grain bin safety.  It’s a longer video (almost 40 minutes) but it covers pretty much everything about grain bin safety, including advice for employers.


Grain Bin Safety Week: Nationwide Grain Safety Site and Upcoming Events

Hi everyone! It’s grain safety week,  so I’m going to be covering a variety of topics related to grain handling and storage over the next few days.  To start I’d like to share Nationwide’s grain safety website (.click here to see website)  This site is a one-stop resource for grain safety. It includes articles, risk management tools, promotional tools, and grain safety activities.  There are also a few grain safety online events that are happening in the next few days.  On Tuesday the 20th there will be a live chat about grain safety on twitter as part of Nationwide’s #AgChat series (Click here for info) and on the 21st at 1:00 central time there will be a webinar on grain bin entry (click here to register and to watch videos of past webinars).  To participate in the webinar, fill out the registration form. It looks like you’ll either be able to call in using the phone number and conference call number on the registration page or click the button that currently says “Meeting has not started” to connect on your computer.

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Nominate Your Fire Department for Grain Bin Safety Equipment (by Nationwide)

In honor of Grain Bin Safety Week (Feb 18-24) Nationwide insurance is hosting it’s 5th  annual “Nominate Your Fire Department” contest.  Local fire departments can be nominated through the contest web page on Nationwide’s website (Click here for contest info and nomination form).

Each winning fire department receives a grain rescue tube and a 6 hour training session worth between $3,000 and $5,000.  Entries for the contest will be accepted between January 1, 2018 and April 30, 2018.  A detailed description of the contest rules and prizes can be found here: Click here to view full contest rules