Silo explosions and bin collapses are dangerous, ever-present threats that agricultural workers face on a daily basis. As highlighted during the recent Grain Safety Week in April 2020, there are many steps that employers can take to protect their workers from these hazards. However, that doesn’t mean they will, and those who don’t could negligently place the health and safety of their employees six feet below the bottom line.
Common Hazards of Handling Grain
Grain silos are filled with potential hazards. While each grain itself is harmless, billions of them piled upon one another can collapse on workers and trap them beneath several tons of grain. Workers can also become entangled in the conveyers and machinery required to lift the grain into the silo. These fast-moving machines can grab clothing, jewelry, and hair-pulling the individual into the machinery.
There is always a risk of slip and fall accidents. Grain accumulation reduces traction on flooring surfaces, and rain, snow, and ice accumulation outside the silo can make ladders and walkways deadly hazards. Employers in Nevada have a duty of care to ensure that these safety risks and others are properly addressed. Employers who do not train their employees on how to avoid these hazards as well as provide them with necessary personal protection equipment negligently place their employees at risk of injury or death.
Education is the Key to a Safe Work Environment
Each year, several hundred workers are injured or killed while performing their duties within grain elevators and other storage facilities. Safety education is an invaluable defensive measure for any grain handling operation. This means ensuring that workers within grain handling facilities adhere to safety standards, including:
- Train employees to use safety harnesses and lifelines to help prevent engulfment and entrapment events.
- Monitor employees to ensure that electrical safety standards are adhered to at all times.
- Provide employees with fall protection equipment including ladders and safety lines.
- Ensure that proper housekeeping steps are followed that help prevent the accumulation of potentially combustible grain dust.
- Routinely check employees for loose clothing, jewelry, or other items that pose an entanglement risk.
- Verify that all fire suppression systems are in working order and that employees are trained to both prevent fires, and to respond to fires quickly and effectively when they start to smolder.