January 20, 2013 | By Amanda R. Strainis-Walker and Eric J. Conn

Practical Application of the Sweep Auger Safety Principles

As part of the settlement negotiations that resulted in the Ten Sweep Auger Safety Principles, the cited employer also developed and submitted for OSHA’s review and approval, a specific Sweep Auger Policy that included actual, practical engineering and administrative controls the employer intended to use at its facilities.  The following is a non-exhaustive list of the engineering and administrative controls that OSHA affirmatively approved as being consistent with the Ten Sweep Auger Safety Principles:

  1. Safety Handle: A handle of at least seven feet in length attached to the back of the sweep auger, that is equipped with a Dead Man Switch or Kill Switch.
  2. Attached Standard Railing: A Standard Railing mounted to the Sweep Auger with protective covering (such as snow fence) attached across the back of the Standard Railing.  The size of openings in the protective covering will conform to the allowable dimensions set forth in Table O in OSHA’s machine guarding standard.
  3. Portable Standard Railing: A portable, self-supported Standard Railing set in place behind the Sweep Auger, again with protective covering attached across the back of the Standard Railing.
  4. Operator Enclosure: A portable enclosure made of Standard Railing inside of which the Sweep Auger Operator can be stationed with a Dead Man Switch or Kill Switch while the Sweep Auger is Operating.  Alternatively, other electrical controls may be used as long as they shut off the sweep auger when the employee steps outside the enclosure.
  5. Operator Stand: A stand inside the grain bin mounted to the bin wall or elevated from the grain bin floor above the moving parts of the Sweep Auger, from where the Sweep Auger Operator can operate and/or observe the Sweep-Cleaning Operations.  The Sweep Auger Operator shall have access to a Dead Man Switch or Kill Switch.   Alternatively, other electrical controls may be used as long as they shut off the Sweep Auger when the employee dismounts the stand.
  6. Light Curtin: When it is demonstrated to be a feasible option, a light curtain may be installed with a triggering distance of seven feet around the sweep auger, which would shut off the sweep auger whenever an employee moves within the triggering distance.

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