Bin Site Entanglement Hazards: Guarding Against Augers, Conveyors, Power Takeoff Shafts

Several types of entanglement hazards may exist when working in or around grain bins. Equipment used to fill and discharge grain storage structures needs to be properly guarded to prevent workers from hazards that could cause physical harm or death.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) Grain Handling Standard 29 CFR 1910.272(g) outlines requirements for bin entry.

Per 1910.272(g)(1)(ii), all mechanical, electrical, hydraulic, and pneumatic equipment which present a danger to employees inside grain storage structures shall be de-energized and shall be disconnected, locked out, tagged, blocked‐off, or otherwise prevented from operating by other equally effective means or methods.

Entanglement Hazards

Bin Sweep Augers

OSHA’s sweep auger policy memo states that employers are allowed to be physically inside a bin with an energized sweep auger provided that:

• The only unguarded portion of the auger is in the front.

• Sub-floor augers are guarded by secure grates or other guards.

• There is an engineering control, such as a standard guard rail attached to the auger, a portable guard rail trailing 7 feet behind the auger, or a dead man’s switch on an operating control inside an enclosure or attached to a handle that keeps the employee 7 feet back from the auger. Also, the facility’s bin entry permit procedures must be followed. In total, there are 10 safety criteria outlined in the memo regarding employee entry into bins with mobilized sweep augers (

Sub-Floor and other Reclaim Augers

Sub-floor augers are to be locked out while an entrant is inside a bin, unless it is guarded and secured in such a way that removes the possibility of an employee coming into contact with its moving parts. OSHA’s 1910.217 Subpart O provides guidelines for addressing other types of augers, such as semi-exposed sloped floor, mobile bin, and truck-fill augers.

Belt and Chain/Paddle Drag Conveyors

These systems can be used as a fill or reclaim system. As a fill system, they should be included in the facility’s lockout/tagout program for bin entry since they have the potential to create hazardous conditions for workers when inside a bin. When these conveyances are used for reclaim, the same sub-floor guarding principles described above also apply.

Power Takeoff Shafts

Power takeoff (PTO) shafts – unless properly guarded – can create wrapping hazards. These hazards could be caused by the joint, burrs, or the air current formed by the rotation. To mitigate the hazard, install shaft guards that cover the entirety of the moving parts. Workers should never step over a rotating shaft; operate controls from outside of the machine; wear loose-fitting clothing, jewelry, or hair; and should stay clear of rotating PTO shafts.

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 and click on Issues.

- From the September/October 2021 GRAIN JOURNALng