Ag Progress Days farm-safety demos to feature grain storage hazards

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- Visitors to the Farm Safety Demonstration Area at Penn State's Ag Progress Days, Aug. 13-15, can learn about the hazards of flowing grain, how to avoid being entrapped or engulfed by flowing grain, and how to safely enter grain storage bins.

Aimed at both youth and adults, the 20-minute safety demonstration will take place at 10:30 a.m., 12:30 p.m. and 2:30 p.m. on all three days of the event.

The number of grain storage bins is increasing rapidly, and the number of people who are exposed to flowing grain and other materials also is increasing, according to Davis Hill, senior extension associate in the College of Agricultural Sciences' Agricultural Safety and Health Program. Operators, employees and family members who are around these structures need to be aware of the hazards they pose.

"Flowing grain can entrap a person within seconds, and they will require assistance to be freed," he said. "People usually enter bins when the grain is not flowing properly. This happens when the grain becomes wet or is stored at the improper moisture content. This results in clumping that causes a disruption in the flow of grain through the unloading auger."

Operators will enter the bin to break up these clumps, Hill explained. Sometimes this clumped grain can cause cavities that, when disrupted, can open up below the operator, entrapping them or totally engulfing them. Without a properly managed lifeline attached to a full body harness, the operator is in a very dangerous situation.

Once a person becomes entrapped, getting free requires more than pulling on a rope, Hill noted. There often is tremendous force exerted on a person who is entrapped in grain. Pulling on a person to overcome this force can cause serious injuries to the trapped person, who often will require assistance from emergency responders to get out safely.

"Many emergency responders are not trained nor equipped to manage these types of rescues," he said. "The discussion at Ag Progress Days will suggest ways that farmers and emergency responders can prepare for emergencies involving grain storage structures. The demonstration will show how to enter a bin safely if it's absolutely necessary for someone to do so."

Safety experts will demonstrate the proper use of a body harness and lifeline that is managed by an attendant outside of the space. In addition, professionals will be on hand to provide attendees with information about several types of farm-safety programs and agricultural emergency response resources.

The Farm Safety and Health Quiz Bowl will be held Wednesday in The Learning Center, located off of Main Street just below the Pasto Museum. FFA youth compete at 9 a.m., and 4-H youth compete at 1 p.m.

"Youth will answer farm safety and health questions in this semi-final quiz bowl event," said Dennis Murphy, distinguished professor of agricultural safety and health. "The winning teams will advance to the state finals in January at the Pennsylvania Farm Show."

Visitors to the Rural Health and Safety Tent, at the end of West Sixth Street adjacent to the farm safety area, will be able to take advantage of a variety of health screenings and information. Free vision screenings and blood pressure readings will be offered from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. daily. On Wednesday only, free tetanus shots will be given while supplies last.

One core pesticide credit can be earned by attending a 30-minute presentation about personal protective equipment, which will be conducted by a rural health farm worker protection safety specialist at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. daily.

Sponsored by Penn State's College of Agricultural Sciences, Ag Progress Days is held at the Russell E. Larson Agricultural Research Center at Rock Springs, nine miles southwest of State College on Route 45. Hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Aug. 13; 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Aug. 14; and 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Aug. 15. Admission and parking are free.

For more information, visit the Ag Progress Days website. Twitter users can find and share information about the event by using the hashtag #agprogress, and Facebook users can find the event here.

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Last Updated July 26, 2013