National Farm Safety & Health Week: Confined spaces pose dangerous threats to farmers

This week, September 16-20, is National Farm Safety & Health Week.  Each day covers important reminders for both farmers and the general public.

Thursday, September 19, focuses on confined spaces in agriculture, and the dangers they can pose for farmers in a hurry during harvest.

When pressed for time, it’s easy for farmers to overlook a potential danger.

“Generally people are in a hurry during harvest, especially farmers because they’re trying to get done so they try to cut corners,” said Tyler Williams, Extension Educator for the Lancaster County Extension.

Williams says when it comes to tight spaces, especially grain bins and silos, that’s when farmers should make sure they’re doing everything they can to protect themselves.

“The grain is sort of like water where it’s pretty powerful, so once it starts moving, it doesn’t take a lot of moving grain to move people,” Williams said.

Adams County farmer Gaylon Hermann unfortunately learned that lesson first hand back in June of 2019, when he became trapped in his own grain bin.

“I remember being completely engulfed and covered up and I remember hearing the scoops hit the corn about twice and then everything got quiet and I blacked out then, I passed out,” Hermann said.

Luckily, Hermann’s son heard his cries for help, and after quick work by local first responders, Hermann made it out of the grain bin alive.

Having his son nearby saved his life, and provides a good reminder to all.

“Always having someone around, like another person on the outside or helping you if you’re in the bin to be communicating with them is a key thing,” Williams said.

It’s not just grain bins and silos that can trap a farmer. Tight spaces and moving equipment all have the potential to create dangerous situations.

That’s why Williams says farmers should always take a minute to stop and think, because a few seconds of saved time is nothing compared to losing a life.

Williams also reminds farmers to be cautious of washed out or weak roads and bridges as their drive their heavy machinery down rarely-traveled back roads.

Flooding earlier in the year washed many of these low maintenance roads and bridges away, and when repaired quickly, they may not be as sturdy.

Farmers should also be aware of washouts in their fields, especially when working in the dark.

For more information on National Farm Safety & Health Week, go to https://www.necasag.org/nationalfarmsafetyandhealthweek/.

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