Entry into feed storage areas such as grain bins and silos may be necessary for a variety of reasons such as maintenance, inspection, cleaning, etc. Entry into a space that was not designated or intended for regular work, has limited or restricted means of entry and exit, or that contains physical hazards is considered a confined space.
Possible feed storage facility confined space hazards:
- Engulfment from grain, dirt, liquids etc.
- Explosions from combustible dust created
- Configuration of the space such as sloping walls and floors
- Entanglement in moving parts such as shafts, couplings, gears etc.
- Energy hazards such as heat, electricity, or stored (lockout tagout is required for all energy sources)
- Noise which can be amplified in a confined space
- Thermal conditions such as extreme heat or cold
Precautions to take when entering a confined space:
- Turn off and lock out all powered equipment
- Employees should never walk on grain to loosen it
- Employees should never walk under bridging condition
- Never walk where there is a build-up of grain products on the side that could fall and bury someone
- Employees entering the space should have on a body harness with a lifeline
- An observer should be stationed outside the bin/an entry permit should be issued
- Air should be tested in the bin prior to entry
- If poor atmosphere is detected necessary ventilation/personal protective equipment should be used
- Minimize ignition sources through controlling hot work, electrical wiring, and design
- Ensure all moving parts are properly guarded
Know the company policies and procedures related to confined space and follow them. It could save a life.