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For Safety’s Sake, Don’t Take Drying Shortcuts with Stored Corn

October 29, 2020

Wet weather conditions are causing concerns with the 2020 corn crop going into storage. Proper management of stored grain will be the key to eliminating risks to human health and safety later in the season.

Grain that goes into the bin with higher moisture content presents a host of possible issues.

  • It can freeze or bind.
  • Mold issues can arise.
  • An environment susceptible to insect problems can be created.
  • Higher volumes of bin fines can result.

All of these issues ultimately affect grain flow efficiencies, which can lead to a number of safety hazards. These conditions can cause grain to become bridged or line the sidewall of the bin, resulting in the need for bin entry into an unstable environment.

Producers will need to monitor bin conditions and test the moisture level of the product more frequently throughout the storage season. Do not take short cuts by reducing the adequate drying time needed when putting the crop in the bin.

Establishing best management practices for safety at the bins now and following those throughout the storage cycle will be a good layer of defense in eliminating hazards.

Start with a “no bin entry” policy. This is the absolute best form of protection from becoming a victim.

If entry must occur, proceed with caution by following these steps:

  • Turn off all power to the bin that is being entered. Lockout any equipment that could be started while a person is inside.
  • Monitor the air quality in the bin before entry.
  • Wear a harness and lifeline for fall protection.
  • Wear an N-95 mask to eliminate respiratory hazards.
  • Have an observer outside the bin and maintain constant visual communication during entry. Ideally in the event of entry a team of 3 would be on hand. One person in the bin, one person at the opening and one person on the ground.
  • While completing tasks inside the bin always be aware of your surroundings and changing conditions.
  • Do not by-pass or dismantle guards.

In incidents of entrapment or engulfment, response time is crucial and having preplanned for events of this nature can help first responders save critical time. Follow these emergency plans at each of your stored grain facilities:

  • Post emergency numbers at the bin, including gas, electric and other utility suppliers.
  • Number and label bins so first responders can identify where they need to be when called.
  • Keep your vendor(s) or installer(s) information in a known location for contact in the event of mechanical or structural questions during an emergency.
  • Inquire with your local fire department about the type of rescue equipment and training they have to respond to grain entrapment situations.

As the wet harvest season continues, keep drying down that grain. By keeping your crop in good condition throughout its storage life you can prevent grain entrapment risks in the future.

Have a happy and healthy harvest from the OSU Ag Safety and Health team!

Source: Ohio State University