It’s harvest time for farmers across the country, and with that, comes the risk of injury and death. The National Safety Council reports agriculture was the industry with the highest number of fatalities across the nation in 2017.

Unfortunately, Minnesota farmers are not immune to this statistic as recent grain bin accidents indicate. In nearly a month, the state has seen four fatal grain bin accidents.

How do grain bin accidents occur?

Grain bin accidents typically occur when a farmer becomes trapped in flowing grain. The grain acts like quicksand and can hastily lead to suffocation. Many times, unloading soybeans from the grain bin, standing on moving grain or loosening a pile of grain can lead to these tragedies.

Fatal incidents may also happen due to unsafe contact with electrical wires, auger entanglement or slips and falls from ladders or catwalks.

Are there grain bin safety measures in place?

These catastrophic accidents can leave fellow farmers, family and friends grieving, confused and wondering how to make other agricultural workers aware of grain bin safety tips. Some safety guidelines and recommendations already exist, including:

· Put ladders inside grain bins.

· Refrain from entering grain bins during the loading or unloading process.

If you must enter the grain bin, take the appropriate precautions and consider these additional measures:

· Turn off the power.

· Wear a safety harness and use a safety line.

· Have people directly outside in case of emergency.

· Understand that grain can collapse and shift.

In an area heavily affected by tragic grain bin accidents, safety education and training prove essential to ensuring safe interactions with dangerous farm equipment. There’s no certainty an accident was yours or your loved one’s fault, and it may have resulted from faulty farm equipment.