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Housekeeping - Grain Handling

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration's Grain Handling Standard 29CFR 1910.272 sets strict housekeeping requirements to prevent primary and secondary explosions within grain handling facilities.

OSHA requires that grain handling facilities develop written housekeeping programs to establish the methods and frequency for removing fugitive grain dust on ledges, floors, equipment, and exposed surfaces.

Fugitive grain dust accumulations exceeding 1/8 inch in priority areas must be removed immediately. This includes areas within 35 feet of inside bucket elevators, enclosed floor areas containing grinding equipment, and enclosed floor areas that contain grain dryers inside the facility.

"Inside bucket elevator" means a bucket elevator that has the boot and more than 20 percent of the total leg height (above grade or ground level) inside the grain elevator structure.

It is important to focus housekeeping efforts on dust that settles in hard-to-reach areas such as walls, ledges, upper surfaces, etc. Consider using long-handled tools, properly-erected scaffolding, or installing additional work platforms to access these areas.

While not as effective as brooms and shovels, the use of compressed air or "blowdown" is a common practice in some grain handling facilities.

Using compressed air for cleaning can dangerously place fugitive dust into suspension.

Consequently, when using compressed air, follow a few simple guidelines.

All machinery presenting a potential ignition source hazard must be shut down, and any other potential ignition sources must be removed or controlled. The use of a blowdown permit can help ensure that adequate precautions are taken.

Grain handling facilities are never too clean. Routinely inspect and clean priority areas, especially those hard-to-reach-surfaces. These efforts will reduce the potential for deadly secondary explosions greatly.


Fugitive dust in a priority area.

Source: Joe Mlynek is president of Progressive Safety Services LLC, Gates Mills, OH:, and content creation expert for Safety Made Simple Inc., Olathe, KS;

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