A Purdue Extension farm safety specialist urges farmers to stop working alone in grain bins and entering them with unloading augers running.
Knowing the risks of working with stored and flowing grain is the first step in preventing entrapments, says Steve Wettschurack, certified farm accident rescue instructor.
"Many farmers get in the habit of doing grain bin chores a certain way and can push their limits every time they repeat a task," Wettschurack says. "You never know when you are going to push it too far, resulting in an accident."
In 2010, there were 51 reported grain entrapments in the U.S., up from 38 cases in 2009. Twenty-six of those were fatal. It's because of these disturbing statistics that Purdue Extension offers grain bin safety workshops throughout Indiana to help prevent entrapments and to prepare first responders in case of emergency.
"Grain bin safety training is not readily available like fire safety or general emergency training," Wettschurack says. "This class is a resource tool for farmers and rescue workers."
Twenty-two workshops have been held since the program's inception in June 2010. The eight-hour training is split into two parts. A morning session focuses on general grain bin operation.
"Participants do not always have an agriculture background," Wettschurack says. "Getting them up to speed helps them understand not only how a grain bin works, but how to better save a life."
During an afternoon session, Wettschurack demonstrates how to properly use a rescue tube and cut holes in grain bin panels. It also allows participants to practice group rescue scenarios.
Many local agribusinesses also are getting involved in the workshops, Wettschurack says.
"There has been strong community support with the program, and, hopefully, we can see a decrease in the number of bin-related accidents," he says.
Registration fee for each workshop is $65. Participants receive a safety certificate upon completion. A list of workshops is available by contacting Wettschurack at 765-714-4557 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Communities and organizations interested in hosting a grain bin safety workshop also should contact Wettschurack. A minimum of 30 participants is required.