February 24, 2016

Technology Helps Prevent Grain Bin Accidents

The impact that technology has had on agriculture is no secret.  Nebraska farmers are now producing more food on fewer acres with fewer inputs than ever before!  But what impact has technology made on farm safety?  As one of the most dangerous occupations in America, there are many new and not-so-new technologies out there that help keep our farmers and grain handlers safe when working in and around grain bins. Nationwide recently had a great blog post discussing some of these technologies!  Below are a few that we wanted to highlight…

Remote Grain Augers
A sweep auger is just one of many different grain bin hazards. A person coming into contact with an energized or running sweep auger faces a serious and often times fatal accident. During an accident, the time it takes to shut down a conventional sweep auger can feel like an eternity.

Improved technology now allows for a sweep auger’s power source to be attached to a remote system that is synced to a transmitter attached to a belt and a receiver box located on the auger. If communication between the receiver and transmitter is broken for any reason, the system shuts down the auger immediately.

Communication can be interrupted in several ways — depending on the emergency. For example, a button on the transmitter can be manually pushed if the operator senses danger. The auger will also stop if the transmitter falls off the operator or if the transmitter’s battery fails.

Breaking up Grain Clusters
Even with proper grain management, pockets of out-of-condition or frozen grain can still develop and plug outlets during unloading. When a grain bin is not properly equipped, workers may be forced to enter the bin to break up the crusted material using long pipes or other means. This exposes workers to the risk of grain entrapment or engulfment and other grain bin hazards.

Numerous products are currently on the market that utilize innovative technologies to break up blockages quickly and efficiently, while keeping workers safe.

Some of these products fit over the grate at the bottom of a grain bin and have propeller-like blades that break up clumps of grain, preventing the auger from jamming and keeping the grain flowing. These products can be operated safely from outside the grain bin

Grain Rescue Tubes
If the circumstance does arise that a person gets engulfed in grain, a grain rescue tube is a proven, popular rescue tool with emergency personnel to help extract victims. Trying to simply pull someone out of waist-deep grain is almost impossible and could cause serious bodily injury or death to the victim.

There are numerous grain rescue tubes on the market—most of which come in lightweight, interlocking sections or panels that can be easily carried into a bin and assembled around a victim. Once in place, the tube serves as a barrier by reducing the crushing pressure on the victim and preventing more grain from pushing up against the victim. Emergency personnel then use a portable grain rescue auger, buckets, scoops or other means to remove the grain from inside the tube until the victim can be safely freed.

Spreading the awareness about grain bin safety and organizing grain rescue tube trainings for emergency personnel—helping them understand how to properly use a grain rescue tube—has been a big initiative of Nebraska Corn’s over the last few years.  Click here & here to see photo from various trainings the Nebraska Corn Growers have hosted last year.

Read more about these innovative technologies from Nationwide's blog here.

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