Best Safety Equipment: What do you consider a must-have piece of safety equipment?

From PPE to proper guarding, grain facilities require variety of safety equipment, good training for workers

Reprinted from Grain Journal November/December 2017 Issue

Ken Moore | Safety and Compliance Director | Ag Valley Coop | Edison, NE

“Grain people use a confined space kit that includes a harness, self-retracting lifeline (SRL), an air monitor, and, of course, a permit. For entering both confined spaces and grain bins, the kit makes the equipment readily available. A lot of them put it in a gym bag, so they have that equipment that they can just grab when the job needs to be done. They don’t have to worry about going to the office and putting parts and pieces together.

“One of the other pieces of equipment that we have installed is a zero-entry sweep. We purchased and installed the first one about three years ago. Others have been installed within the last year. We use them mostly with soybeans. The older style, whether it was an auger or paddle sweep, wouldn’t break up the chunks. So we’ve gone to self-starting equipment that’s built better and works better. And the workers don’t have to worry about getting in a bin at all, until it’s down to the final cleanup.”

Stanley Joergens | Safety and Compliance Officer | South Central FS and Total Grain Marketing LLC | Effingham, IL

“The pieces of safety equipment that we consider a must-have are the lockout/tagout kits and the sweep auger’s seven-foot push handle with dead man’s switch devices. These have had significant impact on the company in preventing employee injury and accidents by greatly reducing close calls. The cost is insignificant compared to the cost of accidents.

“We have found that safety training on these devices is crucial to the safety of our employees. We can have all kinds of equipment that prevents injuries, but unless we train our employees on the proper use of the device, it is useless and will not be used as was intended. Annually, we spend approximately 1,500 total employee hours paid by our company on safety safety device training.

“For example, we have had training on the use of cofferdams to rescue someone from grain engulfment, but we spend twice as much time training our employees to recognize and avoid those hazardous situations. In other words, our time spend on safety training will save time, health, and lives in the long run.”

Ben Kitzmiller | Safety and Environmental Operations Lead | General Mills Inc. | Minneapolis, MN

“I think fall protection is number one by far. You know as much as these guys do work from heights, it’s a big part of their everyday routine.

“The second one is probably gloves. They provide quite a bit of protection, as much as these guys are working on things like vehicles and railcars. When it becomes part of your everyday apparel, you don’t even realize how many injuries you could be preventing each day.

“Other than that, it’s personal protective equipment (PPE) – the glasses, hats, gloves, high visibility vests, steel-toed boot – that are a part of our everyday wear no matter what we’re doing. I think all of the safety equipment we use has such an impact that we don’t even realize, once it becomes second nature to put that stuff on in the morning. It keeps me conscious all day long, too.”

Dan Hollinger | Risk Coordinator | Keller Grain & Feed Inc. | Greenville, OH

“One thing we use for safety is the zero-entry bin sweeps for cleaning out grain from storage bins.

“The company installed new paddle bin sweeps, which do a real good job of cleaning out the bins, so employees can get into them without sweep augers running, so they don’t get entrapped in grain.

“We also bought new lanyards and harnesses that are better-made than the older ones we had for employees working at heights.

“The company leased out its feed mill to another business, so they are taking care of handling safety for feed mill employees.”

Will Cagley | Superintendent Trainee | The Scoular Company | Salina, KS

“I’d say the biggest thing we rely on is guarding equipment. You need guards with all the moving equipment we have in our facilities. It takes guys out of harm’s way, having everything properly guarded.

“Also, PPE is a big thing here.

“Confined space entry also is huge. All the PPE that goes into confined space entry such as locking out equipment, safety lanyards, safety lights, making sure oxygen is all good with the dragger, and harnesses go hand in hand with training. It also includes having guys take proper steps to enter the bins and supervisors making sure what we’re doing is safe.

“Overall, I’d say safety equipment has made a huge difference. If you have to hop into the bottom of a bin, having a harness secure with a lanyard gives you stability, to be able to stand up and do the job right.

“I think the big thing with all the safety equipment is, at the end of the day, to bring everyone home safely. Obviously, we have a job to do, but if people aren’t going home to their families, then the job is not worth it.”