Posted by Matt Bushey in #YHSafetyTips, Apr 04, 2018
Stand Up for Grain Engulfment Prevention Week is this April 9-13. This is a time for employers to get involved in improving worker prevention, reduce injuries, and prevent fatalities from engulfment.
What is Grain Engulfment?
When a person becomes submerged in a grain bin or silo and cannot get out without assistance. This is extremely dangerous when the grain is moving down a shoot. This creates a funneling effect like quicksand, which can make rescuing extremely difficult and time sensitive.
Bridging is also a cause of engulfment. OSHA says, "Bridging" occurs when grain clumps together, because of moisture or mold, creating an empty space beneath the grain as it is released. Bridged grain resists the downward pull that normally moves loose grain to the bin outlet and rarely becomes hard enough to support a person. If a worker steps onto the bridge, it can cave in under the worker's weight, burying him or her in the empty space. Even if the grain flow is stopped before entering a bin, a worker could still be covered if they step onto a grain bridge and it caves in. As grain cascades down, the victim is covered with an "avalanche" of grain that traps and suffocates him or her. Standing under bridged grain is also hazardous because bridged grain can cave in unexpectedly and bury and suffocate the worker.
Workers under 16 years old are prohibited from entering confined spaces or environments, including grain storage structures. This change was the result of six separate documented cases 2010 of grain entrapments that involved workers under the age of 16. Five of the six incidents resulted in death. Multiple deaths in grain incidents happen because other workers attempt to rescue their coworkers and became trapped as well.
Rescuing a Worker
Rescuing a worker in grain requires a great deal more of force than that of pulling someone from water. One factor that water has is buoyancy, which is the force that causes ships and boats to float. A rescuers strength is not likely to be enough to pull a worker from the grain as the grain will resist the force applied to rescue the worker. Only pulling a worker out at the force required around the persons waist will result in at least a permanent spinal column injury. Rescuing requires making retaining walls in the grain around the worker trapped, and then removing the grain either by hand, grain vacuum, shovel or other equipment to extract the grain.
Save Workers Lives, Follow These Measures Outlined by OSHA
Participate next week and Stand-Up for Grain Engulfment Prevention. Click here to get a certificate if you are participating in the event for the Grain Handling Industry.
Missed last week’s blog post on Concrete Safety? Click here to read it.