Sweep auger equipped with an attached guard, which prevents the workers’ contact with the unguarded portion of the auger.
Sweep auger equipped with a control mechanism, such as a dead-man switch, which will allow for the sweep auger’s operation only when the operator is in contact with the device. The worker must be positioned at least 7 feet from the auger at all times it is energized.
Portable guardrails are permitted if they are placed at least 7 feet behind the sweep auger.
- The auger must be provided with a positive speed control mechanism or bin stop device that prevents the uncontrolled rotation of the sweep auger.
- Workers are prohibited from using their hands or legs to manipulate the sweep auger while it is operating.
- If adjustments are necessary, the sweep must be unplugged, with the person making the adjustments maintaining the control of the plug, or lockedout in accordance with lockout/tag-out procedures.
OSHA’s next move was another positive for the grain handling industry when it published a long-awaited sweep auger policy memo that stated that following the 10 rules above was considered compliant with the Grain Handling Standard.
When asked about his response to the memo, the National Grain & Feed Association’s (NGFA) director of safety and regulatory affairs, Jess McCluer, said, “I think it’s a step in the right direction that provides some closure on the issues that we had problems with in their interpretation letters. We’re particularly happy to see [OSHA] allowing the use of engineering controls to protect workers because we had advocated for that position since the beginning of the situation.”
According to NGFA outside counsel, the memo can be useful during an inspection to demonstrate a facility has implemented and is following the safety procedures endorsed by OSHA — provided that the inspection is not based on an accident involving employee injury.
Although the memo was generally well-received within the industry, McCluer notes the agency may still have some learning to do about grain handling operations. “The point we’ve been trying to make to OSHA is that the use of sweep augers has not had a high rate of incidents in the last 30 years,” says McCluer. “There is some confusion within the agency on the difference between sweep augers and floor augers. Floor augers are the type that have a higher incidence rate if it isn’t properly guarded, or if it’s unguarded. This can cause injuries; however, there has never been a high rate of incidents involving sweep augers.”
Despite some minor aspects still misinterpreted by OSHA, its latest memo is a welcome chapter in the sweep auger policy saga.