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:
Here is an ATV safety checklist that was published by UC Davis. ATVs are one of the most dangerous vehicles on farms, and many of the injuries and fatalities happen to children. Often, kids and teenagers are injured when they are riding for fun and not when they are doing farm work. They ride too fast on terrain where ATVs should not be used such as steep slopes and on roads. Using an ATV that is too big for the rider also causes problems because children do not have enough body mass to lean and balance out the weight of an adult-sized ATV. Smaller adults might also want to consider a smaller model.
Another thing that helps prevent ATV injuries is helmet use. It’s important that riders wear the correct size helmet, and that helmets are replaced if they experience even a small impact. You can also consider adding a roll bar. Like with tractors, many ATV fatalities happen when the vehicle rolls over on to the rider, and unlike tractor roll bars, many ATV roll bars can be installed at home.
With a lot of the East Coast experiencing flooding, I thought I’d post some flood cleanup guidelines from AgriSafe. I was able to see a presentation on flood recovery at the International Society for Agricultural Safety and Health (ISASH) conference over the summer, and the information from AgriSafe covers the same information as the presentation. There are so many things to consider before attempting to clean up after a flood. Flood water is almost always contaminated with sewage and animal waste, plus farm chemicals might also be part of the mix. Debris including broken glass, wood splinters, mud, metal, etc can make it extremely dangerous to enter the water. It also only takes a day or two for potentially toxic mold to start growing on wet surfaces. Clearing debris is hard work that can easily cause injury or exhaustion. Damage to structures and electrical systems can put clean up crews at risk for electric shock or even building collapse. In short, before you attempt to clean up, thoroughly research what the hazards might be and take precautions before you start work. The information on the AgriSafe network is a good source for general information. Also, don’t hesitate to call in the experts. Many FEMA and local disaster recovery groups are able to provide protective equipment and expert advice for individual cleanup projects, so if you find yourself dealing with a flood be sure to check for local resources too.
Click on the link below to see AgriSafe’s flood cleanup guides and checklists:
The Canadian group AgSafe has released an updated set of tools for creating a safety and health program on your farm. The new tool set is divided into strategies for small and large farms. The documents provided are a short summary of everything that was covered in the first two semesters of agricultural safety and health classes that I took when I had just started my PhD program, so if it seems like a lot of information to take in at once, it is! This program seems to cover a broader range of topics and has more detailed advice than some of the other DIY farm safety program systems.
I’ve been doing some research on Canadian agricultural safety and health lately since their injury and fatality rates are much lower than the US despite having similar crop and farmer demographics. What I’ve found out is that in the 1990’s there was a massive movement to better understand and prevent farming injuries that is still continuing today. AgSafe is one of several outreach programs created after results from the first round of big research studies came in, and the effort put into it’s development really shows.
Their audit program is only available in Canada, however they have included the document they use to conduct audits with the other materials so that you can get an idea of how your operation would perform in one of their audits.
I went to the Midwest Rural Agricultural Safety and Health conference last week and one of the big topics for discussion was farm safety audits. The Iowa State Extension Office has one of the most expansive audit programs, (click here for some information on their audit program) and is trying to work with the local insurance companies to get farmers a discount for participating. If you don’t live in a state that has an audit program, or if you want to take a look on your own and see how your farm would do, the checklists auditors use are available online. Here are a few of them: