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Grants provide funds to further grain safety awareness

Published January 28, 2014
Illinois grain bins
Illinois grain bins

Grants provide funds to further grain safety awareness

Urbana, Ill. - The Illinois Grain Handling Safety Coalition (GHSC) and University of Illinois Extension have been awarded grants totaling more than $120,000. These grants will be used to promote grain safety awareness and provide prevention training for producers and their employees, as well as elevator owners, operators and employees.

The Great Plains Center for Agricultural Health (GPCAH) awarded GHSC and Extension one grant for $15,000. A second grand for $105,300 was awarded by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). Robert Aherin, a professor and agricultural safety program leader in the Department of Agricultural and Biological Engineering at Illinois, is the administrator of the OSHA grant and co-program investigator of the GPCAH grant.

The GHSC and Extension received similar grants from GPCAH and OSHA in 2012, and those monies were used to develop training modules in different aspects of grain safety.

“The original grant money from GPCAH was used to develop a module that gives an overview of grain safety,” said Aherin. “The previous OSHA grant allowed us to develop four training modules that cover falls, entanglement hazards in grain facilities, safe entry of a grain bin, and an overview of agricultural confined spaces, including grain bins, silos, and manure storage facilities.” In the process of doing that work, Aherin said they discovered that the topic of safe entry of a grain bin, in particular, had not been satisfactorily addressed in the past.

“Safe entry procedures into a bin that has grain that is waist deep (about 4 feet) or greater, and has entrapment or engulfment potential, requires several steps to reduce the risk of entrapment,” said Aherin. “One of these steps includes wearing a lifeline that has been appropriately installed so it can protect a grain bin entrant from becoming engulfed.”

The GHSC developed an educational poster that depicts the basics of a lifeline system set-up, a video which examines the system in more detail, and a list of the technical terms (and their definitions) used in the video. The coalition is continuing their work on developing specific guidelines for determining which grain bins have the design integrity to establish anchors, a critical component for a lifeline.

Aherin said, “We felt there was also a need to cover other aspects of grain bin entry. The new grant will be used in part to develop a second video that addresses issues such as how to use a grain bin entry permit or checklist, identifying hazards, and basic emergency procedures.”

Aherin said some of the grant monies will be used to develop more training materials, including an instructor training program on how to establish a lifeline in a bin. Funds will also be used to further develop the coalition and their website.

Aherin stressed that these resources are not meant to train workers to rescue individuals trapped in a bin. “The Fire Safety Institute has a program on grain bin rescue (which Aherin helped develop), and there are six to eight tech rescue groups in Illinois that are trained in this type of rescue.

“Our materials focus on prevention,” Aherin concluded. “We want to help ensure the safety of the priceless lives involved in the successful operation of a farm or business. The grain they produce has great value, but nothing is more valuable than the lives of family, friends, and neighbors.”

More information about the new grain safety initiatives can be found at