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June 13, 2016 | Arlette Sambs
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Stay Safe Out There

Bin entrapments and deaths on farms decreased last year, but it’s still a huge safety concern

Stay Safe Out There

It seems that at least once every month, sometimes more frequently, a headline in our newsletter will highlight a situation where people or property are put at risk in an elevator or mill. Our whole industry preaches and teaches safety constantly. And we have to; ours is a world of risk!

It was gratifying to see, though, that the constant messaging within our industry and to your farmer customers seems to be helping. The number of confirmed grain bin entrapments and other confined space incidents dropped last year, according to a Purdue Extension study. While this information focuses on on-farm incidents, it is a reminder that the improvement in 2015, while wonderful, still shows we all have more work to do.

The Purdue information, while saying there’s no mandatory national reporting system, shows that there were 47 confined space incidents in 2015, a 34% drop from 2014’s 71 cases. Fatalities decreased as well, from 31 in 2014 to 25 last year.

Yes, improvement. But it still means 25 families lost a loved one. Most of the cases involved grain entrapment, the report shows.

But there also were deaths due to falls, equipment entanglements and other things.

At the recent GEAPS Exchange, several presentations focused on safety — fall protection, bin inspection, confined space entry and rescue, improving safety and assessing your safety plans. These are all vital areas of ongoing education and focus, which of course, is why we’re including safety as part of our Feed & Grain Live conference in August.

Years ago, on the TV series “Hill Street Blues,” the watch sergeant would end his squad meeting with “Stay safe out there!” or “Let’s be careful out there.”

Of course he was talking about his squads going out to catch bad guys, a bit more dramatic than working in the feed and grain industry. (We’ve never seen a TV drama about feed mills or country elevators, have we?)

But it’s good advice and a worthwhile reminder to yourself and for you to give your co-workers ... and not just after your safety meetings, but EVERY day. “Be careful out there!”

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