Four steel grain farm bins off a dirt road

3 Tips to Keep You Safe in Confined Spaces

by Valerie Hawkins

Confined spaces continue to be a top danger on farms. According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), a confined space is “large enough for a person to enter and work, but it has limited entryways or exits and is not designed for someone to be in frequently”.

Examples of confined spaces include upright silos, manure pump reception pits, and grain bins.

To help prevent injury, farmers should identify all the confined spaces on their farms, then follow these three steps:

1. Evaluate the atmosphere. 

Use a gas meter to check for adequate oxygen content and the presence of toxic gases. Some toxic gases might include carbon monoxide, fumigants, or excessive carbon dioxide.

2. Never enter a grain bin alone.

You should have at least one other person outside the bin ready to help. They should know all the safety procedures for entering a confined space, ensure you are following them, and be trained in rescue procedures.

3. Follow lockout/tagout procedures.

Shut down all grain loading and unloading equipment. Then, lock out the power sources to them. Following lockout/tagout procedures can help prevent grain handling-related deaths.

During National Farm Safety and Health Week, and all year long, please make safety your number one priority.

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