Get grain safe
A fact sheet to help keep your farm safe and productive around grain harvesting and storage activities.
Silos, augers, field bins and chaser bins on farms
During harvesting season there’s a lot to do however, if you are an employer, self-employed person, controller, or owner of a workplace and plant, you need to make sure everyone gets home safely during this busy time of the year. Use this checklist to help keep your farm safe and productive.
For detailed information about each of the points, read the code of practice:
Selecting and preparing a site
If you are purchasing or installing a new container, making changes to the workplace or planning a new facility, think about where you will place containers, plant or equipment. Location is everything – you will need to consider the amount of clear space you will need, surface support, drainage and vehicle access.
If you can’t decide which type of storage is the most practical, ask manufacturers for advice. Consider the new safety features available such as caged ladders with handrails and platforms, designs that allow you to see grain volumes from outside, and systems that allow you to fumigate and close lids from the ground. When installing your silo, make sure you stick to the manufacturer’s specifications.
Planning for an emergency
If something happens, you and your workers need to know how to use the emergency plan. Develop it, communicate it, and test it regularly. During tests, it is also a good time to check the smoke alarms and emergency equipment are in good order.
Train your workers in the following:
- Emergency procedures, first aid and injury reporting
- Safe work methods
- Use of tools and equipment
- Identifying moisture content of stored grain and fodder
- Use, storage and maintenance of personal protective equipment (PPE)
- Working in confined spaces
- Using fall arrest devices.
Alert your workers, and anyone else who may enter the site, to potential hazards and safety procedures. Use signs to ensure the message is loud and clear – fire risk, falls, toxic gas, confined space, electrical hazards etc.
Inspections and maintenance
It goes without saying that major equipment and plant should be checked regularly. When you do this, also check the foundations for settlement and the access points for signs of corrosion. Look over the hatches and latches, guards, electricals and unloading and discharge equipment for damage or wear and tear. If it needs fixing, don’t put it off.
Falls from heights
If you can’t eliminate the need to work from heights, reduce the risk. Install fall protection systems, make sure rated points are available for fall arrest and rescue devices, and ensure unauthorised people such as children cannot access ladders or elevated areas.
Before you enter a container you will need to check the atmospheric conditions for combustible gases and toxicity. Make sure you have had training and take in a breathing mask, atmosphere monitoring and communication equipment. Have a second person outside, and rescue equipment on hand in case of entrapment or loss of a safe breathing atmosphere. Don’t ever enter a silo after fumigation, until it has been properly ventilated.
Fires and explosions
Identify, address and control risks such as types of combustible goods and appropriate storage, potential ignition sources, or dust fire and dust explosion risks during loading and unloading. Have warning signs in place and make sure workers are aware they are not required to fight fires.
Consider the proximity and voltage of power lines, electric equipment and leads and determine a safe working distance for each. If you need to disturb the ground, call Dial Before You Dig to find out if there are any underground service lines.
Bulk handling plant
Augers are dangerous – make sure all moving parts are guarded. Have standard operating procedures for plant and equipment, ensure augers and conveyor discharge rates are within manufacturer specifications, and establish lock out and tagging systems to prevent machines from accidentally starting.
Augers can cause nasty injuries. To prevent your hands and feet from contacting the screw, you need to guard auger intakes. You can find guard designs with mesh and bar configurations that allow for both grain flow and operator safety. Don’t forget to fit your augers with an accessible emergency stop switch and make sure any belts or other moving parts are guarded too.
Download a PDF of Get grain safe.