Grain News

NGFA Releases Sweep Auger Guide For Industry

Date Posted: February 7, 2014

This article is reprinted by permission from the NGFA Newsletter, Volume 66, No. 3, Feb. 7, 2014.

The NGFA has completed a sweep auger guide designed to assist grain handlers in developing and implementing a sweep auger operations safety policy.

Over the past several years, there has been uncertainty within the industry regarding what type of sweep auger equipment can be used, and the types of procedures that the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) may find acceptable.

OSHA’s Directorate of Enforcement Programs on May 3, 2013, issued a memo to its regional administrators designed to clarify the agency’s sweep auger enforcement policy.

The memo was based upon a recent settlement between OSHA and a NGFA-member company regarding a sweep auger citation.

Overall, the memo was a positive step toward providing closure on many of the questions that the industry has had concerning OSHA’s sweep auger policies.

OSHA’s sweep auger policy memo states that employees are allowed to be physically inside a bin with an active sweep auger provided:

• the only unguarded portion of the auger is in front;

• sub-floor augers are guarded by secure grates or other guards;

• there is an engineering control (such as a standard guardrail attached to the auger, a portable guard rail trailing seven feet behind the auger, or a dead-man switch on an operating control inside an enclosure or attached to a handle that keeps the employee seven feet back from the auger); and

• the facility’s bin entry permit procedures are followed. To assist the industry in complying, NGFA’s Safety, Health, Environmental and Quality (SHEQ) Committee recommended that NGFA develop the new guide, which can be downloaded for your use.

Special thanks to members of the SHEQ Committee's Sweep Auger task group that helped put the document together:

• Kevin Danner, West Central Cooperative;

• Kevin Frye, GROWMARK;

• Paul Gooch, Consolidated Gran and Barge;

• Roger Holdeman, JBS United;

• John Lee, Grain and Feed Association of Illinois; and  SHEQ Chairman Greg Rowe, Perdue AgriBusiness.

In addition, the NGFA extends its appreciation to the Grain and Feed Association of Illinois for permitting the use of their materials in the document.

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