Thursday, June 11, 2020

Grain bin accidents and deaths up because of wet weather

Reported grain bin entrapments and deaths have increased because of last year's record wet weather. Nationwide, grain bin entrapments increased by 27 percent (from 61 to 67 incidents) and deaths increased by 53% (from 26 to 39) from 2018 to 2019. The trend could continue this year because of similar weather early on.

"Heavy rainfall and brisk harvest conditions throughout 2019 across the 10-state 'corn belt' that includes South Dakota led many farmers to harvest grain crops later than usual and produce grain that was immature or damper than normal," Bart Pfankuch reports for South Dakota News Watch. "Those factors from the 2019 harvest, in addition to the use of old, leaky bins on some farms, have combined to reduce the quality of grain being stored and result in a product known as “'out-of-condition' grain."

Such grain is more likely to clump together and less likely to flow freely from the bin, meaning farmers are more likely to have to go into the bin to try to fix the plug, Pfankuch reports. Owners of small farmers are more susceptible to grain bin entrapments because federal workplace safety laws aren't enforced on farms with 10 employees or fewer.

Earlier this year, a Nebraska farmer announced he'd invented a relatively inexpensive and easy to install machine that could help prevent grain-bin deaths by making it unnecessary for farmers to enter a grain bin to break up the clump. Read more here.

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