MANKATO, Minn. (KEYC) — This week is National Farm Safety and Health Week and with deadly grain bin accidents already making headlines, we’re reminding producers to stay safe and taking a closer look at a state grant that helps producers afford to install additional safety items in and around grain bins.
National Farm Safety and Health Week is coming just in time for harvest to start as farmers are hitting the fields and continuing to work in and around grain bins.
“These things sneak up on them, nobody is going into a bin or walking up to an auger or anything like that going hey, today is the day that’s going to happen to me they’re going, no, I’m OK, I’m watching this stuff I’m gonna be fine,” said Safety and Security Consultation Specialists, LLC, Owner Jack Volz.
Over the last 60 days, five grain bin entrapments have made headlines in Minnesota with some resulting in deaths.
“This time of year we have a lot of PTO power equipment running, augers, choppers, you name it, things going on and we just need to just take a second as we’re running and we need to make sure everything is ready to go and everything is safe,” said Volz.
Starting with the basics, all equipment needs to be shut off before entering a bin and guards and belts need to be replaced when necessary.
“We don’t think about it, we changed the belt, we don’t put the guard back on, it gets broke, it falls off, whatever happens to it, and we need to have that guard there, because it only takes a split second,” said Volz.
Remembering to never work alone in or around a grain bin, even if it means calling the neighbor or a friend for assistance.
“Producers, farmers, retired people in town, they’re sitting in a coffee shop in the morning, having a roll, cup of coffee, whatever, we can go in and ask one of those can you come out and watch over me for a while, can you watch me in the bin in case something happens, and most of those guys would be glad to come out and do it and make sure you’re okay,” said Volz.
Being aware of uncontrollable things such as last year’s weather with grain going into bins wet and before reaching maturity, low prices and the LP gas shortage can help in decision making.
Luckily, this year’s crops are able to reach maturity with prices more favorable compared to last year, one of many positive notes for producers.
“They can replace the guard and that will be 75% funded or replaced, so it’s not exactly just grain bin safety stuff it would be anything that is grain bin safety,” said Volz.
KEYC began reporting on the bill that was coined “Landon’s Law” in memory of Landon Gran, a young man who lost his life due to a grain incident last August, just weeks after his passing.
The bill was approved during the early COVID-19 response and grant money is now available through the Minnesota Department of Agriculture that would cover 75% of the cost of the purchase, shipment and installation of safety equipment, up to $400 per bin.
“Just getting all of our farmers and producers to know that it’s out there and to get them interested in it, because a lot of them don’t even know it’s there,” said Volz.
The bill would also cover a portion of costs for a lockout, tagout system to be installed to prevent equipment running with others in or near the bin.