Auger accidents happen in a flash

The safety rules are simple, but talking about the dangers and having a buddy system are key

Augers are hazardous, and that’s why safety protocols and talking about the dangers with co-workers are critical.

When using an auger, one person should be designated as being in charge of the task, and the equipment should be periodically inspected during operation.

While the auger is running:

  • Observe work area restrictions;
  • Keep all safety shields and devices in place;
  • Make certain everyone is clear before operating or moving the machine;
  • Keep hands, feet, hair, and clothing away from moving parts;
  • Shut off and lock out power to adjust, service, or clean the equipment;
  • Always use the buddy system when unloading or loading grain — notify a second person where you are at all times, so that help can quickly be called if needed.

“Grain-handling entrapments can happen very quickly,” said Kenda Lubeck, a farm safety specialist with Alberta Agriculture and Forestry. “Flowing grain can draw in a person within five seconds. That time is decreased with the use of high-capacity unloading equipment, such as large wagons emptied quickly with large augers. Children are at an even greater risk around flowing grain.”

As well, never enter a bin when grain is caked or spoiled. Mouldy, wet grain clumps and so large air pockets can form as it is being unloaded. An air pocket can form just below the surface creating a ‘grain bridge’ that can collapse at any time.

Communication is key, she added.

“Whether it is shift work with an extended team of farmhands or a few family members, make the plan work for safety. With all the potential hazards during fall work, it takes some discussion and planning to ensure everyone is on the same path to a safe and bountiful harvest.”

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