Delaware County Cooperative Extension

Grain Safety


Iowa 2-5-12– An accident at a Heartland farm ends with one person dead.  According to Lynn Reasor, an investigator with the Keokuk County Iowa Medical Examiners office, John Hammes, 60, of Richland Iowa died while working in a grain bin on his farm. 

Minnesota 2-11-12– A small Minnesota community is mourning the loss of an 18-year-old football star who died in a silo accident Saturday.  Craig Wiechmann’s body was found pinned inside a silo on his family’s farm just outside Melrose, Minn. 

Nebraska 2-28-12– An eastern Nebraska family is mourning the death of a 33-year-old father who was killed in a farm accident.  The Lincoln Journal Star reports that Justin Kunc, of Western, was fatally injured Tuesday while working in a grain bin three miles southwest of Crete. 

Grain bin safety is this year’s emphasis for Agricultural Safety Awareness Week.  The article clips above recall fatal grain storage incidents from February of this year.  The three most dangerous grain scenarios are: (1) flowing grain, (2) the collapse of a grain bridge, and (3) an avalanche of a vertical grain wall (see image below).  According to Purdue University, 77% of grain bin victims were unloading bins at the time of the accident and more than 40% of accidents involved grain that was out of condition.  Workers can become trapped in grain in 4-5 seconds, even sooner if the grain is flowing.  After 20 seconds, the person is completely engulfed leaving no evidence of an incident. 



Consider these precautions to prevent grain entrapment:

-Warn family, employees, and visitors of the dangers

-Place warning stickers on all storage bins and wagons

-Do not walk on grain

-Practice “lock-out, tag-out” prior to bin entry

-Wear a safety harness

-Install a permanent life-line

-Never enter a bin without telling someone

-Always work from the outside when possible

-Secure grain storage areas to prevent unauthorized entry

Additional Resources:

OSHA Grain Handling Website

OSHA Fact Sheet-Worker Entry into Grain Storage Bins

OSHA Hazard Alert-Dangers of Engulfment and Suffocation in Grain Bins

Grain Bin Safety-Stored Products Research and Educational Center-Oklahoma State University

Grain Bin Safety Video-National Corn Growers

For more information, contact the SW Ag Center by phone at 903-877-5896 or by email at

Copyright 2012

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