Wear proper gear for cleaning grain binsAs field work picks up, the risk of accidents increases. My suggestion to farmers and their families is to be aware of possible dangers. I would like to discuss a not so well known accident that can occur this time of the year.
By: Lance Brower, The Jamestown Sun
As field work picks up, the risk of accidents increases. My suggestion to farmers and their families is to be aware of possible dangers. I would like to discuss a not so well known accident that can occur this time of the year.
The small grain crop is almost planted and thoughts will soon turn to preparing for combining the crop. When it is too wet to do anything else many farmers haul grain to be ready for this year’s harvest. That means the grain bins need to be cleaned and ready to go. Cleaning grain bins is an annual routine for farmers, but it can pose some health risks.
One source of the risk is moldy grain dust remaining in the bin from the previous year’s crop. Inhaling the dust can cause flu-like symptoms. These symptoms can be severe and chronic. Each time an individual is exposed to the dust, it will produce even more severe symptoms.
Thoroughly cleaning the bins as soon as they are empty is one way to eliminate the moldy dust problem. Making sure the bins are clean also is essential to maintaining the quality of the next crop stored in them. If the bins are not cleaned of last year’s crop, insects will get in the bins or be there from last year and feed on this year’s grain.
Anyone with allergies or respiratory problems, such as asthma, who must clean bins containing moldy grain dust, should consider using a two-strap dust mask or cartridge respirator while cleaning. An approved dust/mist respirator will have the “TC” prefix on the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) number.
Fumes from treating bins with pesticides also can pose a health risk. Workers applying pesticides should wear a respirator that the NIOSH and Mine Safety and Health Administration have approved. The pesticide label will provide instructions about the respiratory protection that applicators need for the job. Read and follow the product label instructions for application and protection.
A respirator is cheap prevention, compared with the possible medical costs of treating health problems resulting from inhaling moldy grain dust or pesticides. Prices for good quality respirators start at less than $50. Refill cartridges cost between $5 and $15, depending on the type of protection the wearer needs. Be sure to purchase several cartridges because they have a limited service life and anyone needing one always should have a spare.
(Lance Brower is the community, leadership, and economic development extension agent, Stutsman County office, NDSU Extension Service. Contact him at 252-9030 or email lance.brower@ ndsu.edu.)