wheat grain farm

Safety requirements for grain handling are necessary for every facility that stores grains. Anyone in the agriculture industry knows the operational dangers associated with on-site equipment and processing techniques. Grain management provides unique challenges that demand stringent safety measures and dependable equipment. When developing a grain factory or upgrading an existing facility, several risks exist, from grain engulfment to confined spaces. 

However, equipping your facility with sturdy, tamper-resistant technologies can help mitigate a significant proportion of dangers of grain handling. With trustworthy equipment on hand, you will enjoy a safer workplace, more output, and superior feed. Read on to discover various safety issues and their remedies. 

wheat grain leaf

Grain Handling and Storage Facilities 

Grain handling facilities store, process, and unprocessed export grains such as wheat, barley, and corn. Due to the various mechanical components and inherent safety risks, a grain handling system might be challenging to operate. A single grain handling facility may incorporate rice mills, grain elevators, soy mills, and flour mills, among other sorts of facilities. U.S. Soy Sustainability Assurance Protocol mandates specific guidelines for better sustainability and service tools. 

Depending on the facility you run and the grains you process, you will need various equipment for specific activities. Determine which of the major components of a grain storage facility you must incorporate when designing or remodeling your own. 

Grain storage warehouse

Grain Storage Facility Components 

Grain quality determines a harvest’s success. Here are some standard grain storage features. 

  1. Flow valves 

Flow valves control how fast and how much grain leaves the system. These are required at each discharge point of bulk material systems. Our full-flow valves maximize grain flow and operating efficiency. Tight sealing guarantees no product is wasted or contaminated with other grains, ensuring high-quality goods. 

  1. Cushion box 

Cushion boxes protect grain from impact, preserving quality and reducing product damage. It has a unique DBAR adjustable cushion box, which may decrease damages by 50% or more. The self-cleaning inner cone reduces cross-contamination of grain or feed. 

  1. Slide gates 

Slide gates regulate grain production at bulk handling stations. In a grain factory, you’ll find these devices on hoppers, emergency shut-off sites, and conveyor belts. Quality gates enhance grain flow and prevent seize-ups and leaks. Rack-and-pinion gates are versatile and manageable; therefore, many grain growers favor them. 

  1. Transitions 

Grain bins with transitions are expected. These parts are square to round and square to square. They link system pieces and provide seamless grain management. The transitions are durable and wear-resistant because they are lined with ceramic tile and urethane 

Top 5 Safety Protocols for Grain Facilities 

#1 Create a Disaster Action Plan 

Any firm, regardless of size, should have a written emergency action plan accessible to all employees, explaining what to do in the event of a fire, explosion, flood, confined space rescue, or extreme weather in your region. Identifying alarm systems, staff duties in the event of an emergency, evacuation procedures, designated safe zones outside the business, and emergency escape routes helps to minimize the risks to your employees. 

Mark escape routes on facility maps and notify contractors and guests of emergency procedures before arrival. Regularly evaluate the plan’s efficacy and make any required revisions to maximize safety. 

#2 Develop a Training Program 

OSHA and the U.S. Soy Sustainability Assurance Protocol mandate training for recruits, yearly training for current employees, and job-specific training for individuals exposed to new risks. A thorough training program should include cleaning techniques for choked legs, smoking controls, lockout-tagout protocols, housekeeping requirements, procedures for doing hot work, and preventive maintenance of all grain-handling equipment (including grain dryers). 

Safety protocol training program

#3 Prioritize “hot work” permits 

Welding, cutting, brazing, and other techniques that produce flames are examples of hot work. Reduce risk by requiring a permit for every hot work conducted close to a facility that stores grains. Establish sites for heated labor outside of the grain storage facility wherever possible. When this is impossible, permits aid in preserving worker responsibility and operation safety until the completion of the hot task. 

Create a checklist of the processes required to do hot work safely on your site. It would help if you moved all portable fire hazards to a secure location on-site. Also, avail a fire extinguisher where the hazardous task is being carried out. 

In an emergency, buckets of water, sand, and hoses should be readily available in addition to fire extinguishers. It is essential to assess your facilities for potential danger zones as it helps prevent potential dangers. For example, you should document floor gaps or breaches that cannot be sealed immediately and ensure that no combustible materials might cause a fire. 

#4 Observe Confined Space Entry Requirements (Bins, Tanks, Silos) 

Numerous confined spaces in grain-handling facilities must be recognized and labeled with care. Confined spaces are areas with limited or restricted means of entry or exit not designed for continuous usage. Permit-required confined spaces may: 

  • Contain or have the potential to contain a hazardous atmosphere 
  • Contain material that could engulf an entrant 
  • Have walls that converge inward or floors that slope downward and taper into a smaller area that could trap or asphyxiate an entrant 
  • Contain any other recognized safety or health hazard, such as unguarded machinery. 

You should grant permission to enter bins, silos, and tanks and an organized method for accessing prohibited areas. If necessary, the space should be ventilated, and its atmosphere analyzed to determine the presence of an oxygen-deficient environment or a dangerous gas. 

The entrants and attendants must produce the permit when accessing the facilities. Each piece of equipment in the area where personnel will be present must be secured and labeled as inaccessible. Always give participants with the proper personal protective equipment. It would help if you prohibited accessing bridges or densely populated locations while “walking against the grain.” 

Upon completion of the work, you should remove all personnel, revoke the permissions, and clean up the tools and debris. 

#5 Ensure Appropriate Use of PPE 

Workers must wear the proper personal protective equipment (PPE) whenever they enter a grain bin to avoid total or partial engulfment. This includes a body harness, a lifeline, and a boatswain’s chair. Due to the loud nature of machinery, such as grain dryers, earmuffs, and other forms of hearing protection are essential in their area. 

Female Engineers Wearing PPE

Wrapping it Up 

In grain-handling facilities, contractors routinely do work on your premises. Everyone should be advised of the potential threats on your institution’s premises to guarantee their safety. 

Grain handling can be made safer for personnel and property by strict adherence to safety regulations. Even if the preceding list is not exhaustive, following the abovementioned strategies can decrease hazardous conditions in your grain production, keep your employees safe, and ensure compliance with the OSHA and the U.S. Soy Sustainability Assurance Protocol. 

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