By DEBORAH GERTZ HUSAR
Herald-Whig Staff Writer
Spreading knowledge about grain bin safety has become vital in Illinois after incidents claimed three lives in the past year.
The Grain Handling Safety Coalition, a collection of public and private organizations including the Illinois Farm Bureau, was created to encourage rural communities to support safety training.
"There is a need to overcome complacency. Farmers do things every day they don't think twice about doing," Dave Newcomb, who trains agricultural accident first responders for the Illinois Fire Service Institute, said in a news release for National Farm Safety and Health Week. "Farm deaths hit home in rural communities."
But supplying rescue units with the proper training and equipment remains a huge challenge. Costs can exceed $2,000 per training session. Equipment like grain bin rescue tubes, metal cylinders that relieve pressure and prevent grain from completely engulfing a trapped victim, can cost $5,000.
Grants often are available through Farm Bureaus, Country Financial and local equipment and grain dealers.
The American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers said more people are surviving grain bin incidents because of added emphasis on safer procedures, improved first responder training and grain rescue tubes.
First responders can hammer metal panels of the tubes into loose grain around a trapped person. After clasping together the panels, responders scoop out grain until the trapped person can climb free or be pulled out of the grain.
When necessary, farmers should only enter grain bins if:
º Grain is less than waist deep and all electrical equipment has been locked out.
º Adequate ventilation has been established. At minimum, wear a particulate dust mask.
º A co-worker is present outside of the bin who has available means of contacting emergency responders.