GREENVILLE — Several area farmers stopped by the Darke County Fairgrounds Tuesday afternoon for a peek at a an innovative and important training tool designed to prevent tragedy on the farm.
Representatives from the Ohio State University Agricultural Safety and Health Program brought their Grain C.A.R.T. (Comprehensive Agricultural Rescue Trailer) to the fairgrounds to participate in the annual Progressive Agriculture Safety Day, presented by Farm Safety for Just Kids. After the kids’ day was over, the C.A.R.T. stayed around for the grown-ups to have a look as well. The portable grain rescue simulator is the only one of its kind in the country.
When working around grain storage facilities, incidents such as slips, trips, falls, severe trauma injuries, entanglement or engulfment can happen in a fraction of a second, said Sam Custer, Darke County Agriculture and Natural Resources Educator for Ohio State University Extension, Darke County. OSU Extension is the outreach arm of the College of Food, Agricultural and Environmental Sciences at the Ohio State University.
Designed by CFAES faculty and students, the Grain C.A.R.T. is mounted on a 40-foot flatbed trailer and includes a grain bin, grain leg, gravity wagon and other training essentials.
The Grain C.A.R.T. is used statewide by the Ohio Fire Academy in its agricultural rescue direct-delivery training modules to educate first responders on grain bin engulfment. It’s also being used with OSU Extension’s grain bin rescue outreach education program in rural communities to raise awareness among grain industry employees and farm families about he hazards associated with grain handling, he said.
“Throughout Ohio, on-farm grain storage facilities are being upgraded, and newly constructed on-farm storage facilities are getting larger and larger,” Custer said.
It is important for people to think about the safety issues involved when handling grain throughout the fall and winter months. A lot of farmers recognize the hazards associated with handling grain, but during a busy harvest season, safety may not always be at the forefront of their work process.
A farmer working alone at an on-farm grain storage facility is a common safety shortcut, he said. Dr. Dee Jepsen, who was an academic adviser for the creation of the C.A.R.T. and a State Agricultural Safety Leader, said her own husband fails to comply with the safety recommendations for working in grain bins.
“It’s always a good idea to notify family members or coworkers before starting any potentially dangerous work, and tell them when you expect to finish,” Custer said. “If you are supposed to be done within a specific times, someone can check on you periodically or if you are late.”
Jepsen told attendees that the Grain C.A.R.T. project came about from the grain rescue demonstrations offered at the annual Farm Science Reviews. She said fire and rescue organizations began calling and asking about a mobile training option.
Rescue personnel requested specific training in these unconventional rescue situations, where they have limited experience and limited knowledge of the agricultural conditions that exist.
The goal was to collaboratively develop a comprehensive agricultural rescue program, consisting of Ohio Fire Academy curriculum, professional training, outreach, education and awareness.
The Grain C.A.R.T. made its debut at the 2012 Farm Science Review in Columbus and has been traveling the state training rescue personnel and educating farm workers ever since.
Custer and Jepsen offered the following additional safety tips:
• Keep equipment properly maintained. Recognize, respect and avoid equipment hazards such as cut points, wrap points, pinch points, burn points and stored energy. Sever injuries from equipment hazards can happen in a fraction of a second.
• Emergency contact information and procedures should be available and verified. Make sure cell phones are adequately charged and have signal before starting potentially dangerous work.
• Know where overhead power lines are so they can be avoided when moving equipment or using a portable auger.
• Make sure there is adequate lighting at the facility when working in low-light conditions to prevent slips, trips and falls.
• Have a fire extinguisher handy and charged. A fire in its beginning stages often can be extinguished by a quick response by someone with a fire extinguisher.
• Wear an N-95 respirator when working around grain, as it keeps 95 percent of the dust and other pollutants from the grain from entering the lungs.
• All equipment shut-offs should be labeled in the electrical panel and at the switches. This makes it easier to shut off specific equipment in the event of an emergency.
• Never enter a grain bin when the unloading equipment is on. Lockout or tagout procedures should be developed for all equipment to keep them from being unexpectedly started.
• Never enter a grain bin alone. If entry into the bin is necessary, always have at least one observer outside the bin, and make sure all augers are turned off. One person is to enter the bin, and the others should remain outside in case an emergency occurs. Always use a body harness with a lifeline secured to the outside of the bin.
• Bridged grain or grain lining the wall of the bin is dangerous and should be handled at a distance. Use a pole to break up bridged grain and try pounding on the outside of the bin to dislodge grain that clings to walls.
• If the grain is out of condition, poisonous gases may accumulate. If you suspect that the air inside the bin is unsafe, do not try to enter without first sampling the air.