Entrapment calls likely to increase

2011-09-23T10:19:00Z 2011-09-23T10:24:01Z Entrapment calls likely to increaseBy Tim Hoskins For Farm & Ranch Guide Farm and Ranch Guide
September 23, 2011 10:19 am  • 


Concerns about how the drought around the U.S. will affect grain condition might also lead to concerns about grain bin safety as the crop is stored and used through the upcoming year.

Steve Wettschurack, certified farm accident rescue instructor at Purdue University, says they have had meetings, talking about how weather; grain condition and grain bin safety will be affected.

He says in some areas of the country where the crop burned up, there are concerns of possible ear mold issues that could effect how the corn is handled and producers manage it.

Wettschurack says, as farmers are forced to more frequently check the condition of their crop in the grain bin, there is higher concern for grain safety issues.

He says the increased frequency of checking grain tends to make farmers let down their guard and become more complacent about the safety risks of working in and around grain bins..

A common comment after a grain bin rescue attempt is the person had gone into the bin many times, Wettschurack says.

He says lapses in attention to safety due to the comfort of doing the chore before or stress could also be affected by attention being focused on other issues ranging from what to do next to markets or other concerns.

He says farmers and other workers in grain bins should slow down, keep focused on the task at hand and take proper safety steps.

Wettschurack says the number of grain-bin entrapments could be significantly cut if farmers would shut the auger off before going into a grain bin and work with another person around the grain bin.

As part of the education effort, he has written articles aimed at farm spouses to go along whenever a grain bin is entered.

Wettschurack says conditions this year could be set up for a high number of grain bin rescue calls, similar to the number following the 2009 harvest.

He says the 2009 crop had a hard time drying down, and it was a long harvest for many farmers.

The quality of that crop meant farmers and elevator workers had to frequently check the grain to keep it in good condition.

That translated into the highest number of grain-bin entrapments since 1993.

Most of those entrapments occurred in the Cornbelt.

That situation translated into increased grain bin safety awareness by many ag groups and businesses.

Wettschurack was hired by Purdue to teach a farm safety course. However, he has yet to teach that course.

He has been busy conducting grain bin rescue workshops for emergency responders around Indiana, the United States and Canada.

He says most of his weekends are booked for the rest of the calendar year with workshops and he is starting to schedule into 2012. Wettschurack says there have been advancements in grain bin entrapment rescues.

"It used to be if the person was entrapped, you called the coroner. That is no longer the case," he says.

There are several grain bin rescue tubes that emergency responders can use that are placed around the trapped person as the bin is emptied .

In his workshops, he teaches emergency responders on how to use the tubes correctly.

The increased attention to grain bin safety has meant many farm groups and businesses have purchased the tubes.

Wettschurack says at the upcoming National FFA convention, a safety program involving the rescue tubes will be announced.

He says the national program is a follow-up after one FFA chapter in Indiana worked with various businesses and targeted their fundraising to the goal of providing the rescue tubes to every fire department in the county.


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