For the second year, farmers are turning to their grain dryers earlier than expected as the Midwest faces another cold and wet start to harvest. Grain dryers have proven to be a valuable resource for farmers, but like any large piece of farm equipment, safety is a top priority.
To safely operate a grain dryer, farmers and workers need to be aware of all safety signs and warnings on equipment and follow instructions provided by the manufacturer. When operating equipment, always practice safe operating procedures and be prepared for any kind of equipment breakdown or accident.
Here are a few tips for working safely on the farm and around a grain dryer.
Dress safely and appropriately. Tie long hair back, and make sure clothing is snug with no strings hanging off garments. Clothing and hair can easily catch in the moving parts of machines and cause serious injury or death.
Wear protective gear. Evaluate your work environment for the proper personal protective equipment. Consider wearing goggles, gloves, masks and/or earplugs as necessary to protect yourself from flying debris, harmful fumes or dust and loud noises.
Take regular breaks. Operating machinery can be exhausting. Take short breaks when required to stay rested and avoid careless mistakes.
Stay alert. Listen to the equipment as it operates to ensure it is running smoothly. Monitor the grain input and output for consistency. Know which system malfunctions to be aware of and be prepared by knowing what to do should an emergency occur.
Plan for potential accidents. Grain dryers have many moving parts and run at extremely high temperatures, making explosions and fire a real possibility. Keep a fire extinguisher near the control panel and have fire department and other emergency numbers readily available. Have an emergency plan in place, and make sure all family members and workers know where to go and who to call in case of an emergency.
Review the safety and owner’s manuals to make sure you’re operating your grain dryer safely. According to the Propane Education & Research Council (PERC), more than 865,000 farms in the United States use propane in some fashion. Farmers interested in using propane-fueled technology should visit agpropane.com and the Ag Propane section of Cenex.com for more details.