Think Twice Before Going in the Bin

February 23, 2021
Jason Berkland, associate vice president of risk management at Nationwide, discusses how farmers and grain handlers can remain safe if they must enter a grain bin.

The interior of a grain bin is one of the most hazardous places on the farm. That’s why you should never enter a grain bin, says Jason Berkland, associate vice president of risk management with Nationwide. If you do have to enter, be sure to take a few safety precautions.

“Farmers and grain handlers should always remember there are many hazards they can encounter inside a grain bin, including engulfment from flowing grain, atmospheric conditions, and mechanical and electrical hazards,” says Berkland. “There are also hazards from the equipment found inside the bin. No one should enter a bin without thinking through the risks or following safety protocol. That requires wearing the proper protective equipment, such as a safety harness, turning off and locking out all augers or equipment before entering and having a spotter or attendant ready to help.”

Poor air quality is another red flag. If the air in a bin smells like spoiled or moldy grain, there may be grain bridges or vertical grain walls ready to collapse.

A less-obvious hazard is complacency. “Farmers and grain handlers figure that, since nothing bad has happened previously, nothing bad will happen in the future,” says Berkland. “Carefully review all potential risks, have a plan in place and have someone with you every time you enter a grain bin.”

If possible, Berkland encourages farmers and grain handlers to stay out of grain bins altogether. “Zero-entry mentality is the only way to guarantee safety,” he says.

Grain Bin Safety Week, an advocacy program created by Nationwide to raise awareness of the issue, is February 21–27, 2021. To learn more, visit thinkgrainbinsafety.com.