Grain bin safety ‘The best rescue is one that never happens’
What would happen in the community if someone became engulfed in grain while working in a grain bin?
Dan Neenan, director of the National Education Center for Agricultural Safety (NECAS), hopes emergency personnel would have the necessary training and equipment to rescue the person or persons in peril.
“Entrapment is a pretty common occurrence when it comes to grain bin accidents,” Neenan says. “On average, about 50 percent of rural fire department personnel have completed this type of rescue training and have the necessary rescue equipment.”
Entrapment—when an individual is unable to extricate themselves from grain or other agricultural materials—can occur in a silo, grain bin, grain transport vehicle, outdoor pile (avalanche) or bunker silo.
Engulfment occurs when an individual is fully buried in flowable agricultural material such as corn, small grains or feed.
Both engulfment and entrapment can also occur during the use of grain vacuum machines, with outdoor grain piles or in the event of a storage structure failure. Within just four or five seconds, an individual can be submerged to the point where they’re unable to free themselves.
“Within 15 seconds you can be buried in grain up to your waist and completely submerged within 30 seconds,” Neenan says.
Children are at greatest risk of entrapment and engulfment in grain transport vehicles, but adults have lost their lives in this kind of event, too. One example OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) offers is when crusted grain stacked on one side of a wagon caused the wagon to become unbalanced and flip the tractor over onto the operator.