Silos are confined spaces, and that means they can be incredibly dangerous to work in.
Farmers working with silos can be buried by feed, grain or fertiliser. The dust and fumes inside a silo can also be toxic and can trigger respiratory conditions such as asthma.
The dust and fumes can also be explosive if an ignition source is introduced. Spontaneous combustion is also a possibility.
There are measures that you can use to reduce the need to enter your silo. Consider a silo as a confined space, therefore confined space entry procedures should be put in place before any attempt to enter one.
To reduce the need to enter a silo, you should:
- consider using a drier feed that has less chance of causing blockages
- fit vibration systems or turbulence valves
- prevent moisture getting in and caking the feed by fitting and maintaining seals.
Despite using these measures, you may occasionally need to enter a silo. To make sure you stay safe when doing so, you should:
- never enter a silo if you’re alone
- clear blockages from the outside through a hatch
- use a strong safety line and harness when entering a silo
- switch off mechanical devices such as augers before entering a silo
- make sure that you are wearing personal protective equipment (PPE) such as a respiratory device rated for the task.
Have you or someone you know had a close call when working in a silo? Share your story with us today.