CLINTON COUNTY (WLFI) — This week is National Farm Safety and Health Week. With fall harvest now underway, it's the perfect opportunity to talk about farm safety.
Each year serious deaths and injuries happen in grain bins.
This is why Co-Alliance Safety Manager, Shawn Lambert, says the mobile grain bin simulator serves an important role in training and safety prevention.
"Our goal and purpose of the grain simulator was to develop an implement we could take around and train our employees, as well as emergency responders in our trade area," said Lambert. "I think the key takeaway we get from participants that get in the grain simulator is the experience of being engulfed, and the challenge it is to get out of grain, even if it's only waist deep."
Co-Alliance takes the grain bin simulator across the Midwest for various training opportunities.
“We fill the system up with grain and then pull the grain out of the bottom, giving the participant the chance to feel what it’s like to be pulled down and engulfed into the grain itself,” said Lambert. “If we’re utilizing emergency responders we’ll shut the system down and allow them to do a rescue of the individual in the grain.”
The Purdue Agriculture Safety and Health Program documented 35 grain entrapments in the United States last year. 20 of those were fatal.
“Each year in agriculture we continue to lose people to serious injuries or death while entering grain bins, so we think it’s extremely important to train people on the front-side from a prevention standpoint,” said Lambert. “Also training our emergency responders so that if there is an incident they have the experience to get in there and do a good rescue.”
Right here in Indiana, Purdue's 2020 Indiana Farm Fatality Report documented 25 farm-related deaths, including one fatal grain entrapment.
"We're trying to create a level of prevention and awareness so that people don't get into the bin without truly evaluating all of the safety concerns," said Lambert. "It's extremely important that anybody entering a grain bin to understand the safety precautions that needed on the front side, so we don't have any emergency."
According to OSHA, sixty seconds is how quickly a worker can be completely submerged in flowing grain.
"We think it's extremely important that we have this type of training on the front side, especially on the prevention of getting into a bin," said Lambert. "Once an incident happens we have very little time from a response standpoint, especially in rural areas where it may take out departments anywhere from 5 to 15 minutes to arrive."
Co-Alliance also uses the grain bin simulator to educate various high school groups about grain bin safety.
"Our goal and purpose with the grain bin simulator was to develop an implement that we can take around and train our employees," said Lambert. "As well as emergency responders throughout our trade area and expand that into our customers and programs such as FFA, 4-H and school kids that are in specific agriculture programs."
Lambert said the grain bin simulator is not only used as a training opportunity for first responders, but it also gives participants the realistic experience of being trapped in grain.
“I think the key takeaway that we routinely hear from participants is truly being trapped and engulfed,” said Lambert. “Even if you engulf someone up to their waist its very difficult for them to be able to get out of the grain.”
If you are interested in learning more about the mobile grain bin simulator, check out Co-Alliance.com.