Working in a confined space in a farm silo has the potential to be dangerous. Silos should be located clear of houses, overhead power lines, animals, children and water holes. The dust in a silo may be explosive, particularly if the humidity is low. You should never smoke anywhere near a silo. High temperatures in silos can result in heat stress for anyone entering them. If possible, you should do any necessary jobs from the outside.
Do not enter a silo unless you have to. If a silo must be entered, then procedures must be followed, including having somebody standing by in case of difficulties. The responsible person should ensure that adequate checks have been done prior to issuing to a worker a confined space permit to enter. A warning notice of possible dangers should be placed adjacent to the entry point and maintained in good condition. Never enter a silo before turning off and isolating the auger and make sure no one can start an auger while someone is inside. Stay on the ladder above the level of compacted or bridged grain while dislodging it. Make sure ladders start above child height. All entry points should be locked and keys held in a safe place under the supervision of a responsible person
Take care when a new product is stored in a silo. Every stored material has different characteristics and a silo designed to store one product may not be suitable for another. Follow manufacturer’s instructions exactly for preparation of the concrete pad. Use the ‘bedding-in’ procedure when filling by drawing off a rubbish bin full of grain. Keep people well clear when filling or emptying the silo especially children. An engineer should be consulted before modifying a silo because a simple change can drastically alter its structural stability. Equipment attached to a silo can impose dangerous loads. Provide a simple roof platform and ladder cages where necessary. Provide a wire mesh guard, which is hinged permanently on all external openings above the maximum level of grain. Use a fall arrest system where ladders are without safety cages and to anchor to the roof platform.
Working with silos comes with many risks, but by following the correct precautions, these risks can be minimised.