Staying safe around grain bins during harvest - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Staying safe around grain bins during harvest

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IOWA CITY (KWWL) - Harvest is a dangerious time of year for farmers, spending long hours in the field and with their equipment; every year between 60 and 70 Iowans are killed in farm accidents.

We spoke with an Oxford farmer, who's been working around grain bins his whole life. He says grain bins are dangerous, but there are ways to cut down on the risks.

Russ Meade's father taught him some basic rules: never get into a grain bin without a spotter, and stay out if the grain inside is moving.

"When grain's moving out of a bin, it's like walking in quicksand," said Meade at his father's farm.

Meade says grain can harden and form a crust on top, giving the appearance that it's safe to walk on. "That's often the reason you have to get in the bin, to loosen up the grain, so it will run out the augers."

Making sure the grain has been dried properly, and keeping good airflow inside the bin, are ways to avoid that from happening. Still, Meade says the harvest puts some farmers in a rush, which can lead to dangerous or deadly mistakes.

"Sometimes it does cause a person to avoid some of the safety signs, and get in a bin with moving grain."

There are 1 to 3 grain bin deaths every year in iowa, according to LaMar Grafft, a safety specialist with the Institute for Rural and Environmental Health. "The fatalities usually involve people who are sucked under, or buried under, flowing grain," Grafft explained.

The augers inside bins are a contributing factor. "We had a gentleman from Jones County lose his leg earlier in the year in that kind of scenario."

Grafft says special safety harnesses can safe lives, but only when used properly. "The biggest problem with safety harnesses is that if they're adjustable, they're not going to be adjusted right."

Grafft recommends going through a safety checklist, much like the one Meade uses, before entering a bin. The bin should be "locked out" so no machinery or augers are running inside. A second person should be around in case of an emergency. And if a safety harness is available, use it.

Grafft says the number one cause of farm fatalities is still tractor roll-overs.

Online Reporter - Brady Smith

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