Maintain augers and create safe work zones to prevent entanglements
An auger in good condition is an essential tool when it comes time to move grain and feed around the farm. Per hour of use augers are one of the most hazardous machines on the farm, especially if they haven’t been properly maintained.
Although Canadian Agricultural Injury Reporting statistics have identified runovers as the top cause of agriculture-related fatalities, the number of reported entanglements remain on that list and continue to be an area of concern.
To prevent injury, training on safe operating procedures is a must.
- New and returning workers require orientation and training on the safe operations of augers.
- If an auger hasn’t been used in a few months, take the time to review how to safely use the machine before starting it up.
- A new auger or a new-to-you auger also requires some pre-operational learning.
- When purchasing an auger, ask for training.
- It’s better for both efficiency and safety to understand the intricacies of the machine.
For farmers who do not use grain augers as frequently, it can be easy to overlook repairs or general maintenance between uses. But by performing routine maintenance, and taking the time to become reacquainted with an auger ahead use can help prevent close calls or even an injury.
Before starting up the auger, make sure to check that all guards are secured in place. Have a look at all the safety decals and get replacements for anything which is no longer legible or is missing. Some grain auger distributors make these available, free of charge.
Inspect the winch system for wear and tear, ensuring that there is enough cable to wrap around the winch drum at least three times when the auger is down. Check that the cable anchor, fasteners, belts and any chains are all sufficiently tight.
Lubricate the machine as directed in the owner’s manual and top up oil levels in the gearbox. Several equipment manufacturers offer copies of grain auger owner’s manuals online, for farmers who never received a paper copy or have misplaced it since the previous season.
Be aware that any augers manufactured in Canada prior to 2012 were subject to different safety design standards than newer models on the market. A new Canadian safety standard for portable augers used on farms addressed many intake guard and auger driveline design flaws which directly related historical entanglement injuries.
When you are moving grain, it is easy to become distracted. Don’t let a momentary lapse in concentration put the safety of you, or someone you love, at risk around a running auger.
Visit agsafetyweek.ca and check out the resources including toolbox talks on topics like operating portable augers, transporting oversized loads and more.
About Canadian Agricultural Safety Week: Canadian Agricultural Safety Week (CASW) is a public awareness campaign focusing on the importance of farm safety. CASW takes place every year during the third week of March. In 2017, CASW takes place March 12 to 18. CASW 2017 is presented by Farm Credit Canada. For more information visit agsafetyweek.ca.
Source: Amy Petherick for the Canadian Agricultural Safety Association