It costs less than $500 to make it safer to enter farm grain bins, says a University of Missouri Extension rural safety and health specialist.
"You can't afford not to follow safe procedures," says Karen Funkenbusch as the harvest season approaches. While $500 may sound like a lot, the savings are priceless, she says.
Entering grain bins is dangerous, and farm safety experts say grain producers should develop a "zero entry" mentality. "Stay out of the bin," Funkenbusch says. "But if you must enter, do not go alone. Grain entrapment is one of the least understood hazards in today's family farm operations."
There are simple, inexpensive safety techniques that can help avoid grain bin fatalities.
First, turn off and disconnect or lock out all power equipment such as augers.
"With today's high-capacity loading and unloading systems, people are helpless in flowing grain within seconds," she said. The cost for a lockout kit to prevent this is about $100. The savings are priceless.
"Entrapment by flowing grain can be prevented by restricting access to the grain. Use locks on bin doors and hatches to present unauthorized access," she added. And adults should enforce a policy of not allowing riding or playing in grain wagons or other transport vehicles.
Second, use a body harness with an anchored lifeline when entering from a level at or above stored grain. The harness costs and $250 and 100 feet of rope costs about $100. Savings are priceless.