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Preparing Bins For Harvest

Suggested Tasks Prior to and During Bin Entry

Incidents potentially can occur when a worker stands next to or underneath bridged or cliffed grain inside of a grain bin. Therefore, as the fall harvest draws near, here are a few suggestions to prepare for a proper bin entry, if one is absolutely necessary, so as to prevent incidents such as entrapments from occurring.

If it is necessary to have employees enter a bin, silo or tank, commercial facilities are to follow the applicable practices, including the issuing of a bin entry permit, found in OSHA's grain handling facilities standard [29 CFR 1910,272(g)], which took effect in 1988, to help minimize the risk.

Once it has been determined that a certain task must be completed inside the bin, then the facility can begin the pre-task planning and permitting process.

Remember: Do not enter a grain storage unit unless absolutely necessary.

Pre-task planning process: A sit-down with employees to identify roles and responsibilities during the task and identify:

  • Equipment to be locked out.
  • Forms of communication.
  • Equipment needed for the work.
  • Emergency action plan.

Before the bin entry process, train employees and supervisors in the following roles and responsibilities: Entry Supervisor, Attendant, and Entrant.

Roles During Bin Entry Process:

Entry Supervisor: Leads the process for the entire duration of the entry.

Responsibilities include:

  • Inspects the space to be entered; looks for bridged grain, grain beyond the natural angle of repose, hung up grain and anything else that may pose a physical threat to an entrant.
  • Ensures that the air monitor is calibrated and bump tested, and that the space is safe for human occupancy.
  • Leads the bin entry team through a lockout/tagout and verification process for all equipment that poses a risk of entanglement or engulfment to the entrant.
  • Follow compliance criteria in the permit process and issues it to the approving authority.

Attendant: Stays in direct communication with the entrant and has access to additional assistance through the entire duration of the entry.

Responsibilities include:

  • Monitors the space and outside factors for any changes that could pose a hazard to the entrant and terminates the entry if unexpected hazards or abnormal conditions arise.
  • Controls entry into the space to authorize entrants only.
  • Stays in direct communication with the entrant, if possible in eye site.

Entrant: Works inside the space and communicates with the attendant.

  • Responsibilities include:
  • Conducts the work needed inside the space.
  • Communicates with the attendant as often as necessary.
  • Wears appropriate harness and lifeline when entering bins containing grain or other commodities.
  • Maintains control and use of air monitor and other tools.
  • Stays alert for changing conditions inside the space that could pose a hazard and immediately exits the space if necessary.

Remember: Entering any grain storage unit is a process that requires planning and preparation. Ensure that your bin entry program is up to date and all involved employees are trained properly to address potential hazards.

Key requirements are:

  • Every effort should be taken to avoid entry, if possible.
  • Turn off and lock out all potentially hazardous energy sources.
  • Never walk on or walk "down" grain to make it flow.
  • Never enter on or below bridged grain or hung up grain.
  • Test the bin's atmosphere before entry.
  • The attendant must remain by the entrance during the entry process.
  • Ensure that rescue equipment is serviceable and available.
  • Follow the permit and all other safety precautions.

Source: National Grain and Feed Association (NGFA), Arlington, VA, 202-289-0873.

For more information, please contact Jess McCluer, VP of Safety and Regulatory Affairs, or Jim Seibert, Manager of Training, Education, and Regulatory Affairs.



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Safety Tip of the Week is edited by Managing Editor Tucker Scharfenberg and published each Monday by Grain Journal, Decatur, IL

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