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Published Every 5th and 20th of the Month by Grain Journal
January 4, 2017 • Vol. 3 No. 1

Winter Weather Advisories

Wintertime almost always presents some unusual challenges, and this year is no exception.

While some parts of the country are enjoying warm weather, much of the Midwest, especially in the northern sections, are seeing some pretty wild weather gyrations. One day it's subzero temperatures, snow, and wind, and three days later a relative heat wave, temperatures in the 50s, rain, and very unseasonable conditions.

As I write this, it is near 50 in central Indiana, and to the north, the Dakotas, Minnesota, and other states are getting buried in snow.

What ever happened to a normal winter, one might ask, or is there anything normal?

Working in, near, and around some areas of elevators this time of year can present some real dangers. One day, the catch basins are snow-covered; the next, water is standing over the drains, and the list can go on and on.

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Safety Tips

Here are a few tips and reminders on things to do during these times to help you stay safe, keep your facility in a safe condition, and maintain grain quality:

Keep walkways and driveways clear of snow and ice. Slips and falls are a real danger this time of year.

If you operate with stone drives, keep some extra stone around to spread over the ice and snow covered drives. While it won't melt the snow, it will give some traction. Sand works as well.

Keep your eaves' trough drains clear. The water needs to get away. Make sure the water can get to a drain without ponding. Re-freezing overnight can create hazards for all.

Keep your catch basins in the plant clear of ice and snow. During rapid thaws, if the water can't get away, flooding can take place. Also check your sump pumps. They can freeze up.

If water can't get away, temporary structures like piles are at particular risk of water running back into them.

Tarps can loosen, as the grain shrinks due to aeration, etc. During rapid thaws, tarps could loosen, putting the cover at risk. Consider re-tensioning, if that is possible.

Safely inspect grain surfaces, to see if snow has blown in, especially around vents.

Snow and ice sliding off tarps, tank roofs, etc., during thaws could damage your fans and other equipment. There is also a danger to personnel working in close proximity to sloped surfaces. Setting up barriers is a safe thing to do.

Watch your grain temperatures closely. Fan operation during rapid warmups can reintroduce warmer moisture-laden air that can cause you issues in the future.

Railcar operations are of particular concern this time for those who have to deal with snow and ice. Keep switches clean and tracks as clear as possible. Make sure driveways that cross tracks are cleaned, and the flange areas are clear; otherwise, it is easy to derail cars at this type of crossing.

This is a critical time of year. Hazards are around every corner. Plant equipment can be difficult to operate.

You and your coworkers have to pay close attention to all hazards, and always take the time to review daily tasks, eo ensure everyone on your team knows the risks associated with the work at hand. A few minutes of time spent preparing for the day's activities can help you and your coworkers prevent an accident.

Don't Forget Grain Quality

Lastly, keep a close eye on grain quality. Even slight changes in temperatures can indicate a problem. And make sure you have or are cooling your grains to safe storage temperatures, and keep them cool.

There is a very good chance much of this crop will be around next year at this time.

Have a safe 2017.


Source: Bob Marlow is the owner of Operations Professional Services (OPS), a consulting firm in Walton, IN; 765-714-9910.


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