To Learn About Grain Bin Safety

On January 05, 2019

To Learn About Grain Bin Safety
A $160,000 grant awarded to Penn States College of Agricultural Sciences will support research aimed at reducing the potential for injury and death due to grain bin entrapment.
The Northeast Center for Occupational Health and Safety in Agriculture, Forestry and Fishing has green-lighted funding for the three-year project, which will focus on improving mechanisms for safe grain bin entry systems, anchors and apparatus based on new recommendations. The project also will assess operators’ use of safety guidelines and practices.
“A moving five-year average of 29 grain bin entrapments occur every year in the U.S., and approximately half result in a fatality,” said principal investigator Michael Pate, Nationwide Insurance Associate Professor of Agricultural Safety and Health in the Department of Agricultural and Biological Engineering “This is a serious issue for our farming communities.”
He explained that an increase in growers’ interest in storing grain — for economic and efficiency purposes — has increased the risk of incidents involving grain bins and silos. While there are several hazards associated with grain handling systems, such as respiratory issues, fires and noise levels, the most life threatening is entrapment or engulfment during loading, transportation or unloading of grain. 
Once buried in grain up to the knees, it becomes difficult for a person to get free without assistance from others. If the grain is still flowing, it can engulf a person within seconds, leading to suffocation or asphyxiation.
“What’s scary is how fast this can happen,” Pate said. “For example, for a 6-foot tall worker, it would take less than five seconds for grain to reach that worker’s knees. In 20 seconds, that person would be completely submerged.”
With recommendations for bin access, anchor attachment points and safety decals, the standards provide enhanced protection for those who must enter grain bins. This guidance also will help them to accomplish their task with higher awareness and understanding of the hazards surrounding them and of the safety steps that should be used.
Pate’s study will use a simulation design tool to test various scenarios, looking at grain bin design, access, anchor-point systems, and harness and safety apparatus use, among other factors, with the goal of retrofitting older, on-farm grain bins to enhance safety. He plans to survey operators on their interest in making upgrades and to learn what concerns and barriers they might face in improving grain bin entry systems.
Another area of study will involve focus groups, workshops and on-site visits to assess workers’ knowledge and use of safety standards, and other related industry topics. Identified information gaps will be addressed through further education.
“As more farmers engage in on-farm storage to take advantage of market prices, Penn State Extension will continue to be there to provide them with the expertise and resources they need to be successful,” Pate said. “Our No. 1 priority in all of that is to ensure that safety comes first.”
More resources related to farm safety — including articles, workshops, online education and publications — are available on the Penn State Extension website at
To Take Your Whole Family To The Pennsylvania Farm Show
If you are seeking information about the invasive spotted lanternfly, home gardening, food and health, agricultural majors and careers, or 4-H opportunities, you can find it by visiting Penn State exhibits at the 2019 Pennsylvania Farm Show, Jan. 5-12 in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.
The focal point for Penn State expertise will be a large exhibit staffed by the College of Agricultural Sciences and Penn State Extension in the Main Hall of the Farm Show Complex and Expo Center.
The exhibit will feature information about the spotted lanternfly, which was found for the first time in the United States in Berks County in 2014 and since has spread throughout 13 counties in southeastern Pennsylvania — a region that the state Department of Agriculture has designated as a quarantine zone. The pest threatens Pennsylvania’s grape, tree fruit, hardwood and nursery industries, which collectively are worth about $18 billion to Pennsylvania’s economy.
Farm Show attendees can speak with Penn State spotted lanternfly experts, see specimens, learn how to identify the various life stages of the pest, and find out how they can help manage lanternfly infestations and comply with quarantine regulations. Visitors of all ages can receive spotted lanternfly stamps, tattoos, headbands, fact sheets and a homeowner management guide.
Gardening enthusiasts can come to the exhibit and learn tips and techniques from Penn State Master Gardeners, volunteers who receive horticulture training from Penn State Extension and, in turn, share their knowledge with their local communities. Master Gardener volunteers will answer questions at an “Ask the Master Gardener” booth, and visitors can register to win a copy of the Penn State Extension Master Gardener Manual, an 808-page hardcover publication that normally sells for $75.
The show is held at the Farm Show Complex and Expo Center, at the corner of Cameron and Maclay streets in Harrisburg, just off exit 67 of Interstate 81. Hours are 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. Jan. 5 and 7-11; 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Jan. 6; and 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Jan. 12. Admission is free, and parking is $15. For more information, visit the Farm Show website:
Quote Of The Week: “Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn.” Benjamin Franklin