by SUSAN MANN
It only takes 20 seconds to become engulfed in grain piled in a grain bin and even a little bit of grain in the bin can cause problems, says Tiffany Spearing.
Spearing, the general manager of Lockie Farms Grain Elevator in Zephyr, says her uncle, Gary Rush, worked for an elevator south of Cambridge and died after suffocating in a grain bin in March. He got stuck in the bin and then became engulfed in grain.
And that’s why Lockie Farms Grain Elevator, owned by Daryl Rush, Gary’s brother, is hosting an all-day grain entrapment prevention workshop at the elevator on July 10. The day starts at 9 a.m., goes until 4 p.m. and features “some pretty highly skilled” speakers, Spearing says.
The day is free for participants and includes a barbequed lunch.
“We’re trying to alert the agricultural industry and farmers that even a little bit of grain in a grain bin is a big worry,” Spearing says, noting even when a bin is almost empty and you can see bits of the floor but there’s grain pile up the sides of the wall it can start flowing and entrap someone. “It’s the force of the grain that’s on you” that can cause injury and death.
For someone engulfed up to their waist, it takes 900 pounds of force “to pull you out of there,” she says. People suffocate in a grain bin because the grain’s force makes it impossible for them to expand their diaphragm.
Walking on the top of a pile of grain in a bin is also dangerous because there could be an air pocket that the person doesn’t see and the person could get sucked into the grain. “It (the grain) is kind of like quicksand. You can’t get yourself out because the more you struggle the more you sink,” she explains.
Speakers at the workshop will provide information on how to avoid getting into a grain entrapment situation. “There are things that you can do, such as tie-offs that stop you from sinking,” Spearing says. Speakers will also talk about what to do when you find yourself entrapped in grain or you find another worker in that situation. They will also talk about best management practices around grain bins, demonstrate rescue equipment and talk about safer, more efficient design parameters for future grain handling facilities.
Spearing says speakers are from the United States-based Emergency Services Rescue Training Inc. and the Safety and Technical Rescue Association. Representatives from these two organizations train fire department personnel on how to respond to grain entrapment situations. Another speaker, Fred Spiro, the health and safety specialist with the Ontario Agri Business Association, will be talking about the rules and regulations that provincial farmers must follow.
Zephyr is located 20 minutes northeast of Newmarket. Everyone is welcome to attend and preregistration is not required. BF