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Predicting the Potential of Engulfment Using an On-Farm Grain Storage Hazard Assessment Tool

Published by the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers, St. Joseph, Michigan

Citation:  Journal of Agricultural Safety and Health. 10(4): 235-243 . (doi: 10.13031/2013.17638) @2004
Authors:   D. M. Kingman, A. D. Spaulding, W. E. Field
Keywords:   Checklist, Entrapment, Grain bin, Hazard, Safety, Suffocation

The goal of this research was to address the problem of engulfment in flowing grain in on-farm metal grain storage bins. This was accomplished using a systems approach to identify contributing factors to engulfment, which were then used to develop a 28-question Farm Grain Hazard Assessment Tool (FGHAT). A numerically weighted high- and low-risk response accompanied each question, the sum of which resulted in a potential-risk-of-engulfment score for a given on-farm grain handling and storage system. The assessment tool was pilot tested on a sample of 47 farms. The difference between the mean scores of farms with a history of engulfment (n = 14) and the mean scores of farms with no prior reported engulfment incident (n = 33) was significant (p < 0.001). This finding suggests that it is possible, using the hazard assessment tool, to predict the increased likelihood of an engulfment in a specific on-farm grain storage and handling system. It was also found that the management of grain during storage and an individual’s perception of risk and willingness to avoid flowing grain hazards had the most significant impact on reducing the potential for an engulfment. In contrast, a history of grain plugging problems was not found to make a considerable difference in scores between the two groups of farms. The presence of stirring devices in bins, accommodation for lockout devices on electrical controls, and using grain storage bins smaller than 20,000 bu capacity also had little impact on the difference in scores. Based upon the level of significance of each of the 28 questions’ ability to predict an increased risk of engulfment, it was concluded that a valid response could be obtained with as few as eight questions. Recommendations concerning continued study and application of the tool were formulated, including the effectiveness of the tool in changing the farmers’ behavior, and the findings also contributed to the revision of a potential engineering standard for on-farm grain storage structures.

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