Handling and processing grain materials come with plenty of risks, particularly those related to entrapment. Large amounts of grain can suffocate workers in a matter of seconds. That’s why feed mill managers need to ensure their employees are adhering to the latest grain handling safety guidelines. Automation has simplified the handling and grinding process, but large containers still present plenty of hazards. Take a moment to learn about the lock-in/lock-out process and how it can reduce the risk of entrapment.
Grain Equipment Safety
Adhere to the following guidelines to prevent entrapment:
- Lock all grain containers and storage units to keep bystanders out.
- Post safety information on grain containers and bins.
- Provide safety equipment to employees when working in or near grain handling equipment or containers, including NIOSH-approved dust-filtering respirators, goggles for improved visibility, and hearing protection when working around noisy equipment such as fans, dryers, etc.
- When entering a grain container or storage unit, make sure the grain is not being loaded or unloaded. Turn off all power and use the lock-in/lock-out safety system. All employees must wear a safety harness and line. Keep several additional workers nearby in case of an emergency.
- Train all employees on the latest grain handling safety guidelines.
- Limit access to the grain facility. Keep bystanders and children away from grain handling equipment and containers.
- Install ladders inside grain storage bins to facilitate entry/exit.
- Use caution when approaching or working near crusted grain. These materials could collapse at a moment’s notice.
- Install adequate lighting to improve visibility around grain handling equipment and containers.
Conduct regular safety inspections to ensure that your facility complies with these standards. Create a safety checklist when inspecting individual units or equipment.
The Lock-In/Lock-Out Process
The lock-in/lock-out process is one of the easiest and most effective ways to reduce the risk of entrapment. Before an employee enters a grain storage container, they should turn off the system power supply and use their employee tag to lock the system out, so other workers cannot turn on the power by accident when the employee is still inside. Once the employee exits the grain container, they will then lock-in the power system and return it to its original state.
Automated grain handling systems may turn on their own, endangering employees inside the container. The lock-in/lock-out process ensures that the system cannot turn on, whether manually or automatically, until the employee locks the system back into place.
Without the lock-in/lock-out system, workers may turn on the power system without realizing another employee is still in the bin, which can lead to entrapment and other workplace injuries. Use this process to protect your staff on the job.