Grain Wagon Entrapment Display

  • Ayers, Paul;
  • Legault, Malcolm L.;
  • Dickson, Monte;
  • Johnson, Chris

Grain entrapment kills or injures many adults and children every year. For that reason, the Department of Agricultural and Chemical Engineering is providing District and Area Cooperative Extension Offices a display concerning this very subject. Comments should help in giving a short presentation concerning grain entrapment. The display and presentation are to be used together. The funding for this project comes from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH).


The presentation is informal and works best with individuals or small groups. Allowing for experience in giving presentations, facts will be provided to aid the presenter. The average presentation for this subject lasts only a couple of minutes.

Flowing Grain Facts

  • Flowing grain presents potential suffocation and entrapment hazards.
  • Walking on non-flowing grain will allow you to sink approximately one foot into the grain.
  • In flowing grain, once the surface of the grain is at knee level, no amount of struggling will allow you to free yourself (unless you are able to grab a solidly fixed object, such as a side of the grain wagon).
  • It takes only two or three seconds to be caught up to the knee level.
  • It may take 10 seconds or less to be completely buried in grain.
  • Grain can bridge (or crust) over. This bridge can collapse.
Grain Safety Tips
  • Children should never be allowed to play in grain storage equipment-Empty or full.
  • Adults should stay out of grain bins or other grain storage areas unless absolutely necessary.
  • If it is necessary to enter the grain storage, have a safety rope tied onto yourself with someone on the other end. The second person should be somebody strong enough to at least prevent the first person from sinking further into the grain.
  • Augers must be shut off if someone is entering a grain bin. This can be accomplished with lock out-tag out or the key removed from the tractor.
  • If you are being pulled into flowing grain, yell for help and try to grab a stationary object (i.e., ladder) to prevent being sucked under the grain. If you can't grab anything and are about to go under, cup your hands over your mouth to prevent inhaling grain into the lungs. This might buy you some time during the rescue procedure.
  • If someone is buried in grain, turn off the grain flow and try to: a) make a dam around the victim, b) dig the victim out from the surface of the grain and c) if the victim is buried too deeply, turn over the wagon in the opposite direction from the victim. If trapped in a bin, cut large notches in the bin at a level below the victim (the grain will only smolder and can be put out easily if using a cutting torch).

For further assistance, please contact:

Paul Ayers
Extension Agricultural Engineer
Department of Agricultural and Chemical Engineering
Colorado State University
Fort Collins, CO 80523
(303) 491-6172

Farm Safety 4 Just Kids
P.0. Box 458
130 East First
Earlham, IA 50072
(515) 758-2827
(515) 758-2517 (FAX)

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. More