Grain handling safety precautions - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Grain handling safety precautions

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Dewey Lee, Extension Agronomist UGA Tifton Campus Dewey Lee, Extension Agronomist UGA Tifton Campus
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TIFTON, GA (WALB) -

It's an incredibly dangerous job that's common on South Georgia farms and Ag businesses.      A man killed in a grain bin at an ethanol plant was laid to rest today as the Occupational Safety and Health Administration investigates the accident.  

In 2010, 26 workers were killed in grain storage bins. That's the highest number of deaths on record. It's a job that can easily turn deadly without the proper safety precautions. These grain handling facilities are built to handle and protect thousands of bushels of grain stored inside. This high hazard industry can expose workers to fires, falls and suffocation which is the leading cause of death.  

"We never really know the dangers that lurk inside these bins and so we often encourage growers and others to make sure they follow all the various safety rules," said Dewey Lee.  

Proof of that danger came Thursday afternoon when 31-year-old Joshua Fulghum slipped into an auger while sweeping seeds in a bin at Southwest Georgia Ethanol just outside Pelham.

"Anytime anyone is injured or there is a loss of life in any grain handling facility whether it's on a farm or at a business it's a tragedy," said Lee.  

Before entering a grain handling facility it's important that you never go in alone. Make sure you always have a ladder and that you're always wearing your harness.  

"Wearing a harness will help them in case they were to fall through then someone can be there to pull them out," said Lee.  

Mechanical equipment such as this auger can lead to amputations if it is not stopped.  

"Stop all moving parts in other words stop unloading the augers and make sure that they cannot be engaged while you're inside that bin," said Lee.  

Lee says you should also carry a long pole to break up crusted grain on the inside of the bins.

"Using a long pole to probe that area often will cause that to break and then resettle as you are operating an auger to auger out that grain," said Lee.  

Lee says someone should always be on the outside of the bins when you're inside for emergency purposes and that it's important to read the danger signs located on the storage facilities.

Another Mitchell County farmer died in a grain bin last week, though investigators say Jackie McCook may have had a heart attack before he fell in. You can find more information about grain handling safety by clicking here.

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