By Doug Graves
ARLINGTON, Va. – Each harvest season brings long hours for those who harvest and one six-letter word comes to mind during this period – safety.
The National Grain and Feed Association (NGFA) sponsored its second annual Harvest Safety Week Aug. 31-Sept. 4. The organization sent emails and safety materials to producers everywhere, reminding them to protect their employees and customers during the fall harvest season.
“Promoting safety and health for those on the farm is part of the cornerstone of my professional career,” said Jess McCluer, director of safety and regulatory affairs at NGFA. “Our goal is to raise awareness about dangers lurking on the farm and provide education and training by various means. And though we call it a safety ‘week’ we want to stress safety throughout the harvest season.”
The NGFA, founded in 1896, is a broad-based, non-profit trade association that represents and provides services for grain, feed and related commercial businesses. Its activities focus on enhancing the growth and economic performance of U.S. agriculture.
McCluer and the NGFA preach safety to those in the agricultural community with a number of safety tip sheets on topics such as vehicle struck-by and preparing bins for harvest.
“Struck-by injuries and fatalities involve conventional vehicles, forklifts, semi-truck and other moving industrial equipment,” McCluer said. “With harvest in full swing and additional traffic occurring at facilities, certain precautions should be taken to ensure a safe work environment for both the employee and customer.”
Proper storage bins, McCluer says, could have prevented many entrapments that have occurred in recent past.
“Preparing bins for harvest in so key. Many farmers don’t realize that it’s critical to maintain and keep the bin in good condition and working order. Some of the tragic incidents that have happened the past few years could have been prevented with proper maintenance of these bins. We’ve had some real tragedies with engulfments in these storage bins this past winter and we want to raise the awareness of these hidden dangers. During the 2009-2010 winter harvest we saw the highest number of entrapments ever recorded, so we don’t want to see these tragic events repeated ever again.”
Other tip sheets address shuttle loading and rail safety, quality control and dust suppression techniques.
“Combustible dust is a key topic in the ag industry so dust suppression needs to be addressed,” McCluer said. “Mitigating the presence of grain dust is a crucial part of any housekeeping program to comply with OSHA’s (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) standards and risk management practices. We offer tip sheets that highlight tools that can be used to assist in dust mitigation. The industry uses white mineral oil to reduce the concentrations of dust near potential ignition sources with grain elevators. And, there are dust collection systems that capture the particulates and store them until they can be disposed of or reintroduced to the commodity. Even 1/8-inch of dust could ignite a primary explosion.”
An interactive course on slips, trips and falls is offered by NGFA. Also available this fall are videos pertaining to grain bin entry safety and safety and grain quality management.
NGFA provides safety tips on such subjects as hazard communication, bulk material storage, lifting, rigging and hoisting, hand tool safety, emergency action plan, hot work, trenching and excavation safety and more.
“NGFA’s Safety Tips series is published periodically as part of our association’s commitment to safety in the workplace,” McCluer said. The tip sheets, safety tips and interactive training course may be found at https://imis.ngfa.org/safety.