Engulfment can occur when a worker stands next to or underneath bridged or cliffed grain inside of a grain bin. Here are a few suggestions to prepare for a proper bin entry, if one is absolutely necessary, to prevent incidents such as entrapment or engulfment from occurring.
If it is necessary to have employees enter a bin, silo, or tank, commercial facilities are to follow the applicable practices, including the issuance of a bin entry permit, found in the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) standard 29 CFR 1910.272(g), which took effect in 1988.
Once it has been determined that a certain task must be completed inside the bin, then the facility can begin the pre-task planning and permitting process.
Bin Entry Roles
Before the bin entry process, train employees and supervisors in the following roles and responsibilities: entry supervisor, attendant, and entrant.
Entry Supervisor. This role leads the process for the entire duration of the entry. The supervisor’s responsibilities include:
• Inspecting the space to be entered, looking for bridged grain, grain beyond the natural angle of repose, hung-up grain, and anything else that may pose a physical threat to an entrant.
• Ensuring that the air monitor is calibrated and bump tested and that the space is safe for human occupancy.
• Leading the bin entry team through a lockout/tagout and verification process for all equipment that poses a risk of entanglement or engulfment to the entrant.
• Following compliance criteria in the permit process and issuing it to the approving authority.
Attendant. This role stays in direct communication with the entrant and has access to additional assistance through the entire duration of the entry. The attendant’s responsibilities include:
• Monitoring the space and outside factors for any changes that could pose a hazard to the entrant and terminating the entry if unexpected hazards or abnormal conditions arise.
• Controlling entry into the space and limiting it to authorized entrants only.
• Staying in direct communication with the entrant and staying within sight, if possible.
Entrant. This role works inside the space and communicates with the attendant. The entrant’s responsibilities include:
• Conducting the work needed inside the space.
• Communicating with the attendant as often as necessary.
• Wearing appropriate harness and lifeline when entering bins containing grain or other commodities.
• Maintaining control and use of air monitors and other tools.
• Staying alert for changing conditions inside the space that could pose a hazard and immediately exiting the space if necessary.
Bin Entry Program
Entering any grain storage unit is a process that requires planning and preparation.
Ensure that your bin entry program is up to date and all involved employees are trained properly to address potential hazards. Some key requirements of a bin entry program include:
• Every effort should be taken to avoid entry, if possible.
• Turn off and lock out all potentially hazardous energy sources.
• Never walk on or walk down grain to make it flow.
• Never enter on or below bridged grain or hung-up grain.
• Test the bin’s atmosphere before entry.
• The attendant must remain by the entrance during the entry process.
• Ensure that rescue equipment is serviceable and available.
• Follow the permit and all other safety procedures.
This article is one in a series of Safety Tips published by the National Grain and Feed Association (NGFA), Arlington, VA (202-289-0873). To view more NGFA Safety Tips, go to ngfa.org and click on Issues.