grain bin safety
WASHINGTON, D.C., U.S. – The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) formed analliancewith the National Grain and Feed Association (NGFA) with the goal of protecting the safety and health of workers in the grain handling industry. The two-year alliance will focus on preventing exposure to hazards associated with grain bin entry, machine guarding, respiratory protection, falls, heat exposure exposures, combustible dust, struck-by equipment, and lockout/tag-out.

Alliance participants will share recommended practices or effective approaches for recognizing and preventing grain handling hazards with OSHA staff, and industry safety and health professionals. Participants also plan to support and promote events such as the Grain Industry Stand-Up, which focuses on engulfment prevention.

“Grain handling operations pose numerous hazards that can cause serious, sometimes fatal injuries,” said Loren Sweatt, deputy assistant secretary of labor for OSHA. “We look forward to working with NGFA to find ways to reduce exposures to hazards and promote workplace safety and health.”

One threat that impacts the grain industry are grain dust explosions. A total of five grain dust explosions occurred in the United States in 2016 — a 10-year low — according to an annual report issued by Purdue University’s Department of Agricultural and Biological Engineering.

Although the total number of explosions was lower than in recent history, two of the incidents resulted in the first reported fatalities since 2013. According to the report, the five grain dust explosions in 2016 compared with eight in 2015, seven in 2014 and a 10-year average of 9.2 per year.

Through itsAlliance Program, OSHA works with unions, consulates, trade and professional organizations, faith- and community-based organizations, businesses, and educational institutions to prevent workplace fatalities, injuries, and illnesses. The purpose of each alliance is to develop compliance assistance tools and resources to educate workers and employers about their rights and responsibilities.

Founded in 1896, the NGFA is a non-profit trade association that represents and provides services for grain, feed, and related commercial businesses. The association has more than 1,000 member companies, which handle more than 70% of all U.S. grains and oilseeds used in domestic and export markets. Its activities focus on enhancing the growth and economic performance of U.S. agriculture.  

Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are responsible for providing safe and healthful workplaces for their employees. OSHA’s role is to ensure these conditions for America’s working men and women by setting and enforcing standards, and providing training, education and assistance.