WASHINGTON, D.C., U.S. — The National Grain and Feed Association (NGFA) announced on March 13 that it recently published a sweep auger guide designed to assist grain handlers in developing and implementing a sweep auger operations safety policy.

The guide is available for free on the NGFA website

"Over the past several years, there has been uncertainty within the industry regarding what type of sweep auger equipment can be used, and the types of procedures that the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) may find acceptable," said NGFA Director of Safety and Regulatory Affairs Jess McCluer. "This guide was developed to help the industry navigate OSHA's new policy for operating sweep augers safely inside grain bins."

The NGFA guide reviews the 10 criteria outlined in a recent OSHA National Office memorandum issued in May 2013 to its regional administrators regarding employee entry into bins with mobilized sweep augers.  The criteria in the memo are based upon a recent settlement between OSHA and a NGFA-member company. 
For example, under the OSHA policy memo, employees are allowed to be physically inside a bin with an energized sweep auger, provided:
•           The only unguarded portion of the auger is in front;
•           Sub-floor augers are guarded by secure grates or other guards;
•           There is an engineering control (such as a standard guardrail attached to the auger, a portable guardrail trailing seven feet behind the auger, or a dead-man's switch on an operating control inside an enclosure or attached to a handle that keeps the employee seven feet back from the auger); and
•           The facility's OSHA bin entry permit procedures are followed.

Also detailed in the NGFA guide is compliance with OSHA's existing bin-entry procedures specified in the agency's grain handling standard [29 CFR 1910.272], such as requirements for obtaining bin-entry permits, providing proper entry equipment, stationing trained and equipped observers outside the bin, and other requirements.

The guide also contains a sample sweep auger policy template based upon the 10 points in the OSHA memo that may be useful to managers in developing and implementing such a policy at their facilities.