2018 Grain Engulfment Prevention Seminar

The Nebraska Grain and Feed Association (NeGFA) with the National Safety Council – Nebraska, Ag Cooperative Safety Directors of Nebraska, and the Area 7 Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) co-hosted a Grain Engulfment Prevention Seminar in coordination with the National Grain & Feed Association (NGFA) and OSHA’s “Stand-Up for Grain Engulfment Prevention Awareness Week.” Activities planned for the week of April 9-13 focused on raising awareness about grain bin engulfment hazards, providing education and training, and conveying safety best practices.

At AgPark in Columbus, Nebraska grain elevator operators and managers experienced and participated in a live grain engulfment and rescue simulation facilitated by Mike Harp of Safety & Technical Rescue Association (SATRA). Participants played the role of an entrant, the individual who gets entrapped by the grain, and in distinct roles of a three-person rescue team as they worked to free the entrapped individual using a grain bin rescue tube and other safety equipment such as safety harnesses and lifelines.

Brad Bousquet, Vice President of Safety and Compliance at Central Valley Ag Cooperative, followed the hands-on engulfment training with a presentation on the importance of effective safety leadership to prevent a catastrophic event.

Taking a deck of cards, Bousquet asked the group, “If the face cards were hazards that could kill you would you draw a card from the deck? … If I told you that I could remove the hazards (face cards) would you draw a card from the deck?” He demonstrated that each of the face cards stood for knowledge of safety to be provided to employees, quality work environments that ensure safe facilities and proper equipment for employees to do their jobs, procedures so that things don’t get jacked up, and to remove the jokers because commitment to safety is the most important aspect. As humans, we make mistakes and it’s the responsibility of the employer to remove the possibility of those mistakes that could endanger our life or the lives of those we work with. But it's also our responsibility, as employees, to help carry out those safety procedures and demonstrate that for our fellow colleagues and workers.

Other speakers last Thursday included Jeff Decker, a member of the Grain Handling Safety Coalition and President of Decker Consulting & Investigations. Decker began with saying that grain quality is an important part of safety. If you can keep your grain in good condition, it minimizes the opportunity for grain to clump together which creates conditions such as cliffing, where grain sticks to the sides of bins or bridging where grain is encrusted so it looks like there is grain all the way across the bin although in reality there might be grain missing underneath as it is augured out of a bin.  Both situations are dangerous if someone was to enter the bin. If your grain is out of condition, be cautious and try to find a solution without entering the bin. Never enter a bin when unloading grain or when breaking up a mass of grain that is cliffed as this grain will avalanche down.

Barbara Grove, Quality Systems Manager with Central Valley Ag Cooperative reviewed how to use CO2 monitoring as a best practice in grain management. Early detection of grain spoilage which reduces financial loss can be determined by monitoring CO2 within a bin. It’s also a benefit for worker safety.  Fun Fact: CO2 monitoring can detect pest infestations three to five weeks earlier than temperature monitoring.

Jeff Funke, OSHA Area Director asked, “What is your role as a safety director? It’s to find the safety hazards before they find your employees.” He highlighted things that his office was seeing. He challenged everyone to take the message “Shortcuts kill” as their big takeaway from this seminar. “Other people are dependent on you to help make their workplace safe. I challenge all of you to make bin entry a best practice.”

For more information on Stand-Up for Grain Engulfment Prevention Awareness Week visit this website, which provides training materials and a certificate of participation to demonstrate involvement in the engulfment prevention initiative.