All the steps involved in growing, harvesting and storing
grain crops require using equipment that has the potential
to injure a farmer who fails to follow safe operating practices.
There are several safety rules that can be applied to the
planting, harvesting, transporting, drying, and storing procedures.
Avoid operator fatigue - take frequent short rest breaks
if necessary. Don't take unnecessary chances when trying to
complete a job in a hurry.
Plan ahead - maintain machinery on a regular basis.
Check equipment before it is used.
Stop - if equipment becomes plugged or needs to be
checked, make sure that all moving parts have stopped and
that no one else can start the equipment while it is being
checked, cleaned, or repaired. Use 'lockout' procedures when
Look - keep your eyes open and stay alert. Watch for
Listen - be sure you can hear what is happening. Wear
ear protection when operating equipment or working around
Follow safe operating procedures - become familiar
with owner/operator manuals for all equipment that will be
used. Refer to the manual for adjustment and repair information.
Make certain that other workers use safe operating procedures.
Keep guards and shields in place - if guards and shields
are removed for maintenance or repair be sure to replace them
BEFORE the equipment is operated again.
Keep steps and walking surfaces clean - watch for mud, ice,
grease, and oil. Use handrails where provided.
Dress appropriately - wear reasonably snug fitting clothing
without torn or frayed edges. Avoid jackets and sweat shirts
with draw strings, which may get tangled in moving equipment.
Wear protective clothing and gear - goggles, gloves, dust
masks, ear plugs, etc. should be worn whenever necessary,
not just when it is convenient.
in Grain Storage Centers
state and local highway and public roadway laws. Check lights
for visibility from the front and the rear. Check that tall
equipment will not contact overhead power lines. Be aware
that some equipment may require wide turns.
the owner's/operator's manuals to determine the best way
to position an implement for transport on public roads.
loads evenly and do not overload wagons. If there is a problem
in stopping when hauling loads of grain, it is usually the
result of the tractor being unable to stop in time with
the additional weight of the wagon. Under Michigan law,
only two wagons can be towed by an agricultural tractor;
a pickup truck is permitted to tow only one wagon.
Grain storage systems have many parts, all of which require
safety considerations. Read and heed all safety signs and warnings
on equipment and follow manufacturers' instruction manuals.
dryers are noisy and there is a potential for explosion
and/or fire. Be prepared. Have all workers wear hearing
protection when the grain dryer is operating. Keep an ABC
type (dry chemical) fire extinguisher near the control panel.
fire department and other emergency phone numbers readily
sure that all workers and family members are familiar with
safety equipment and can contact emergency help. Teach younger
children how to contact help, especially if "911" service
is available in your area.
smell and check for gas leaks near a grain dryer. Hire a
professional for repairs to the burner or to the electronic
control system. A professional should also be hired to upgrade
or to install a new grain dryer system.
Storage bins present a multitude of potential hazards. Mold
and dust are common health hazards that can cause respiratory
damage. Entrapment in grain flow can cause death from suffocation.
Entrapment happens very quickly and results in more deaths
Falls from a grain bin roof or ladder can result in serious
injuries or death.
Common recommendations for grain bin safety include:
Never enter a bin where grain is flowing. Stop the flow and
shut off all automatic equipment and power.
Use lockout procedures when making repairs or when entering
the bin for any type of inspection.
Never enter a grain bin alone. Always make sure someone knows
where you are. If possible, have two people available to help;
one can go for help while the other person helps you. If you
are helping, do not jeopardize yourself if you cannot safely
rescue the other person.
Attach ropes inside the bin and use a harness if you must
walk on the grain. Many farmers have died after falling through
a crust of spoiled grain and were buried in the loose grain
underneath the crust.
Make sure a storage bin is well ventilated before entering.
Wear a respirator to protect against dust and mold.
If trapped, but not buried, stay near the outside wall and
walk around the storage bin as the grain moves downward.
Keep ladders in good repair and free of slippery materials.
Seek professional help if servicing or repairing the electrical
or LP gas systems is necessary.
Be alert for children
- curious children must be kept
away from all equipment. Because they are smaller than adults
it's more difficult to see them when operating equipment. Keep
them away from farm operations until they are old enough to
safely handle any task assigned.
Safety in the Field
Grain planting and harvesting equipment should be lubricated
and maintained on a regular basis. Refer to the owner's manuals
when maintenance or repairs are necessary.
Never service equipment while it is running unless the service
manual indicates that operating the machinery is necessary to
perform the maintenance or repairs.
Proper field preparation is essential to safety. "Clean" fields
before planting or harvesting by removing stones, low branches
and other debris that may damage equipment or injure workers.
Mark obstacles that might be difficult to see when sitting in
the equipment operator's seat. Be alert to changing soil conditions;
excessive rainfall or heavy rains may cause gullies or "wash
outs". In dry conditions ditch embankments may give way under
the weight of equipment.
Check tires for proper inflation and soundness. If you are driving
a machine, communicate with other workers, especially when attaching
When equipment must be adjusted or serviced in the field, shut
down and use lockout procedures to assure yourself that no one
else can start the equipment. Allow sufficient time for moving
parts (i.e. the flywheel on a bailer) to stop before servicing.
Keep hands out of pinch points. Numerous Michigan farmers have
lost their hands while trying to free jammed chains, belts,
etc. when harvesting grain. Harvesting equipment uses moving
parts to remove grain from the plant; when jammed, the machine's
movement is stopped, but there may be pressure on the grain
or stalk that caused the jam. Once the jam is removed the machine
often tends to "lurch" forward, pinching fingers, hands or anything
else in its path. Don't put your hands in jeopardy.
Block the wheels on moving parts to keep them from moving suddenly.
Tractors and combines accept various implements. Be aware that
these implements will cause the tractor or combine to handle
or operate differently. Check for secure connections before
operating an implement; use locking hitchpins and safety chains.
During harvesting, stay out of trucks and wagons when grain
is being loaded or unloaded. Suffocation can occur when a person
is trapped in flowing grain.
Safety in Transporting
Most agricultural equipment has only one seat for the operator,
extra riders are at risk and should not be allowed to ride on
any agricultural tractor. Use appropriate safety equipment provided,
such as seat belts or harnesses and handrails or foot rests.
When operating equipment on the public roads, check to see that
slow moving vehicle signs are securely attached, clearly visible
and that they are not faded.
Grain Auger Safety
Many accidents occur around augers and conveyors. Augers are
used in the field when loading and at the grain center when
unloading. Use the same precautions at both locations.
an auger or conveyor in a lowered position.
to an auger or conveyor should be done by two people. Watch
for overhead hazards such as powerlines. Also be aware of
ground conditions that could upset the auger when it is
being moved or put into place.
hoist cables and replace when worn or frayed.
attempt to grab the spinning crank if the lift mechanism
breaks out of control.
the wheels and support the head of the auger or conveyor
when it is in operation.
go under an auger or elevator as it is being raised.
information on transporting agricultural equipment on public
roads see the publication "Today's Farm Equipment on Public
Roads." The pamphlet, published by the Office of Highway Safety
Planning, a division of the Department of State Police, State
of Michigan, is available at your local Cooperative Extension
Illustrations courtesy of Deere & Company, Moline, Illinois, Agricultural Safety, Fundamentals of Machine Operation series, 1987.
Reviewed: R.Brook, Agricultural Engineering, Michigan State University.
WHAT IS THE CMASH PROGRAM?
The Center for Michigan Agricultural Safety and Health (CMASH)
takes traditional Cooperative Extension Service farm safety
programs a step further by taking a holistic approach to improving
the health of the state's rural residents. Under CMASH, farm
safety is augmented with a program to assist healthcare professionals
in diagnosing and managing illnesses common to the farm industry.
The program is a joint effort of Michigan State University's
Colleges of Agriculture and Natural Resources, Human Medicine,
Osteopathic Medicine, Nursing and Veterinary Medicine, the Cooperative
Extension Service, Institute for Environmental Toxicology and
the Pesticide Research Center.
CMASH is not, a regulatory agency, it is an educational center
designed to encourage agricultural producers to protect themselves
from occupational injuries and diseases. Comments or questions
can be addressed to: Howard Doss, Extension Agricultural Safety
Specialist, MSU Cooperative Extension Service, 223 A.W. Farrall
Agricultural Engineering Hall,Michigan State University, Fast
Lansing, MI 48824.
Funding provided by the Michigan Agricultural Health Promotion
Project, a cooperative agreement among Agricultural Engineering,
the Cooperative Extension Service Agricultural Safety Program,
the College of Human Medicine and the National Institute for
Occupational Safety and Health.
Disclaimer and Reproduction Information: Information in
NASD does not represent NIOSH policy. Information included in
NASD appears by permission of the author and/or copyright holder.