Agricultural Engineering Safety Lesson Plan: Grain Handling


Identify safety practices and precautions that should be used in and around grain handling, drying, and storage facilities.


  1. Wear a respirator capable of filtering fine dust when working in and around dusty or moldy grain. Breathing mold spores in stored grain can cause illness and can lead to chronic health problems.
  2. Maintain proper and effective shields and guards on hazardous equipment such as moving belts, pulleys, gears, and shifts.
  3. NEVER enter a bin or gravity-unloaded vehicle when grain is flowing. Suffocation is a major cause of accidental death when handling grain. Before entering a bin, lock out the control circuit on automatic grain unloading equipment, or flag the switch on manual equipment, so someone else does not start it.
  4. Closely monitor grain drying activities. When using a bin dryer, constantly supervise sunflower and grain sorghum drying at high temperatures. Fires can occur in high temperature bin dryers and are more common with grain sorghum and sunflowers that with other grains. Fans and burners require safety controls such as thermostats, high temperature limit switches, air flow switches, and flame detectors. Fires can also result from trash sucked into the fan and blown through the heating element. Pick up trash around and in the dryer daily.
  5. Locate the grain handling/storage facility downwind of prevailing winds during harvest season, and at least 200 feet from houses, neighbors, and other areas occupied by people. A location away from the house reduces traffic nuisance and safety problems in the living area.
  6. Be aware of common hazards found in and around grain handling, drying, and storage facilities. Common hazards include pulleys, chains, conveyors, falls, large vehicles, dust, and noise. Post warning signs near potential hazards.
  7. DO NOT remove safety shields from drive assemblies or grates over auger intakes. Grain augers are a major farm hazard. When children are around, NEVER start ANY machinery without being sure the children are not in danger.
  8. Forbid climbing on bucket elevators unless absolutely necessary. Climbing to the top of a bucket elevator for servicing or maintenance is dangerous. Keep shields on all bucket elevator drive assemblies. Put guard rails on all service platforms and cages on ladders. Install resting platforms with rails on ladders per OSHA guidelines. If guy cables are used for support, they should be positioned, installed, and tensioned by professionals. Elevators supported by towers with stairs are ore convenient and provide better safety features such as rest platforms and stairs, but are more expensive than using guy cables.

Kansas State University Cooperative Extension Service, Manhattan, Kansas.

The KSU Cooperative Extension Service provides practical, research-based information and educational programs to address critical issues facing individuals, families, farms, businesses and communities.

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