BLOOMINGTON – Grain industry leaders and safety professionals joined together this week to kick off the 2019 National Safety Stand-Up for Grain Safety Week.
The event at the Asmark Institute Agricenter in Bloomington featured demonstrations and discussions on various safety-related issues.
“Agriculture is the number one industry in the state and there is actually more farm storage than commercial storage so farmers are storing more and more grain for long periods of time,” explained Dave Newcomb, ag rescue program manager for the Illinois Fire Service Institute.
Newcomb cautions against entering a grain bin if you don’t have to, but if you must, another person should stand at the entrance in case something happens.
“Lock out and tag out any of the equipment that can make the grain move,” Newcomb advised.
Dealing with stored grain is just one more iron in the fire since growers had to deal with a wet fall and what is turning out to be a wet spring period.
“This is a national issue – it isn’t just today or this week,” said Eric Wilkey, chairman of the National Grain and Feed Association. “We take the role very serious in making sure employees and employers are aware of the safety issues around their industry.”
Wilkey believes grain engulfment is a major concern in both the commercial and non-commercial grain industries. He wants younger people who work in agricultural environments to be aware of grain safety and realize the hazards that are out there.
Warren Goetsch, deputy director for the Illinois Department of Agriculture, pointed to statistics which continue to show that agriculture is one of the top industries in terms of safety challenges.
“Grain handling is one of those challenges we need to be concerned about,” Goetsch said.
Even though it may not be the most glamorous thing to do, Goetsch urges farmers and those in the grain industry to talk about safety every day.
“Anything we can do at the Illinois Department of Ag to support your activities, we certainly want to be involved,” he added.
Acting director of the Illinois Department of Labor Michael Kleinik read a safety proclamation on behalf of Gov. J.B. Pritzker, which declared the week of March 25 “Stand-up for Grain Safety Week” in Illinois. The Department of Labor’s goal is to ensure workplace safety across the state.
“Our safety experts come out and inspect a facility free of charge,” Kleinik explained.
More on grain safety can be found at the Grain Handling Safety Coalition’s website at www.grainsafety.org.