Cleaning silos is something that is very important to do in order to prevent blockages, overflowing and waste. However, even more important is to stay safe when cleaning them. Because silos are large, hollow, usually cylinder shaped structures it is often required to manually go inside them to clean them. This is when expensive equipment can’t be used for cleaning. Here are some hazards in cleaning silos and how to stay safe.
The most common way of cleaning a silo is to manually lower someone down into the cylinder. Firstly, it is important that only trained professionals clean the silo.
One hazard that can arise when the person is down there is a long term issue. This is respiratory problems. Because silos are used to store materials such as grain, there can be many particles in the air. The person is required to scrape the inside of the silo which will release matter into the air. Some of the matter inside can be hazardous and produce asthma later. Dust can also be produced, and therefore it is important to take precautions before entering into the silo. First the majority of the dust can be removed by vacuuming so that it all goes into one chamber and is not released into the air, and avoiding dry scraping as often as possible. Another way of preventing asthma is to only be exposed for short periods of time. Personal protective equipment is key to preventing respiratory problems and skin irritations. This means masks, full protective suit with hood, helmet and gloves. The protective clothing should be cleaned every day in order to get rid of the chemicals that may be on the clothes. In silos with limited space and oxygen an oxygen mask may be essential.
The safest way to clean a silo is from the top down. If you clean from the bottom up a large piece of material may be loose and fall down. Safety belts and harnesses are essential.
Another obvious hazard is to do with heights. Usually the worker will have a platform, rope or a cage they stand on. It is important to regularly inspect the safety of these in order to prevent falls. Safety belt and harness must be correctly be attached to the worker. There should also always be a discussed escape route, therefore there should be doors the worker can escape from.
You should always be watched by a safety supervisor in case something happens. This supervisor must notify the silo operatives that the cleaning is in progress so they stop all feeding of material into the silo.
All in all, it all boils down to protective equipment and supervision, which are the two most important things.