Prevent grain bin accidents

February 22, 2022
Jason Berkland, senior associate vice president of risk management at Nationwide, a major insurer of U.S. farms and ranches, discusses the importance of Grain Bin Safety Week. He encourages everyone working around stored grain to understand the risks associated with grain bins and to follow these farm safety tips.

Feb. 20-26, 2022, is Grain Bin Safety Week — a week dedicated to bringing awareness of the dangers of working in and around grain bins. Jason Berkland, senior associate vice president of risk management at Nationwide, shares the importance of implementing farm safety best practices.

“We hear stories about farmers and grain handlers being entrapped in grain bins and, unfortunately, the loss of life that can occur. Grain bins are some of the most hazardous places on a farm,” says Berkland. “Grain Bin Safety Week is about raising awareness and encouraging farmers to ask themselves if entering a grain bin is necessary and, if so, how to do it safely. But we don’t want to focus on grain bin safety only in February. This week is meant to keep awareness top of mind and to ask those questions year-round.”

Use technology, caution to avoid entrapment risk

There are fundamental steps to monitoring stored grain while staying safe, says Berkland. “Open the grain inspection hole and look inside the bin to determine if there is any crusting. If you smell sourness or spoilage, turn on the fans.”

Newer grain bin safety technologies can help minimize or even eliminate the need to enter grain bins, he adds. For example, some grain bin management systems indicate grain temperatures inside the bin.

Keep children safe

There are many moving parts around a grain bin that run when loading and unloading grain, so it’s important to have guarding in place, Berkland advises.

“You have to think about your own safety and guarding around things you’re going to be operating or moving around, but you also need to consider who else will be in the vicinity. Make sure children are kept away from grain bins and that any jobs they participate in are age appropriate. Grain bin safety is a key component of farm safety.”

“Those precautions extend beyond children. Don’t assume people can handle every task that is being asked of them. Know the hazards that could be part of each task and how to perform the task safely. It’s important to have a plan, walk through that plan with others and ensure they know how to do the job correctly and safely.” 

Grain bin safety is farm safety

Since 2014, Nationwide has held a contest to award rural fire departments with grain bin rescue tubes. “We’ve awarded more than 200 rescue tubes. Five of those rescue tubes have been used to save lives,” says Berkland. Nominate your fire department to win a grain bin rescue tube. Find more grain bin safety practices at thinkgrainbinsafety.com.