Proper Grain Silo Maintenance
There are approximately three grain-handling accidents in the U.S. every single month. More than half of them are fatal. Most if not all of these deaths and injuries could have been prevented through greater precaution – proper grain silo maintenance included.
But the advantages of proper grain silo maintenance are not limited to a safer workplace. Grain silo maintenance is also paramount to preserving the quality of the product and avoiding needlessly expensive repairs later down the road. The following is not a definitive list of everything you must do to responsibly maintain a grain silo, but it is a good starting point!
Empty the Grain Silo Before Any Maintenance
Prohibit workers from entering the silo before it has been completely emptied. Grain entrapment takes as few as four seconds; total engulfment takes only five times as long. It is also critical to equip all workers with OSHA-compliant safety gear. They should also never enter a silo that has not had its power completely shut off.
Keep moving parts in mind while maintaining your grain silo. Neither the grain beneath workers’ feet nor the mechanical systems surrounding them should present any risk of sudden movement!
Inspect the Area Immediately Surrounding the Grain Silo
Proper maintenance begins just outside the grain silo. Check for signs of soil erosion surrounding the silo foundation, as that can compromise structural integrity and ultimately cause collapse. Keep the area immediately surrounding the grain silo mowed and free of trash and organic debris. Doing so will help to keep rodents and insects away from a silo’s valuable contents.
The seal surrounding the bottom of a grain silo is typically under immense pressure. Check the seal regularly to ensure it is still correctly repelling rain and meltwater from the interior of the silo.
Inspect the Wall of the Grain Silo
If your grain silo is made of steel, it is at risk of becoming thinner through gradual erosion and corrosion. Either type of damage will decrease a silo’s load capacity and pose a heightened risk of leakage, cracking, rusting, and buckling.
If your grain silo is made of concrete, regularly inspect for signs of exposed rebar, spalling, and cracking. Cracks could indicate delamination, in which concrete separates itself into multiple layers. If delamination occurs, the concrete might no longer be sufficiently bonded to its underlying structural reinforcements. As with eroding and corroding steel walls, a delaminating concrete silo wall can no longer bear as much weight. Partial wall failure or total silo collapse may also result from delamination!
Inspect the Grain Silo Roof
Like its walls, your grain silo’s roof is essential to protecting its contents from weather, contaminants, and pests. That is why you must regularly check your silo roof for signs of corrosion and cracking and any gradual damage that may have occurred to its protective coating. Immediate restoration is required should a grain silo roof show any signs of failure.
Inspect the Grain Silo for Safety Hazards
Regularly inspect any equipment that serves to reduce airborne dust levels, as these must function correctly to prevent silo explosions. Keeping your ventilation system and belt-rub sensors in complete working order, sufficiently lubricating moving parts’ ball bearings, and adequately insulating all electrical wiring are crucial to preventing a catastrophe.
Likewise, inspect all walking surfaces for tripping hazards and ensure all ladders are undamaged. Workplace fall injuries account for nearly 900 deaths in the U.S. every year!
Clean the Grain Silo Regularly
It is always suitable protocol to thoroughly clean the interior of a grain silo once it has been emptied. Grain residue lining the bottom and sides of a grain silo may contain fungal spores and other biological contaminants, spoiling the next arrival of grain.
Once workers have vacuumed out a grain silo, check to ensure the interior is spotless. Any areas with lingering debris should be wiped down, brushed clean, and totally dried before adding more grain.
The NIJAC team provides insulation repair for grain elevators, metal roof restoration, concrete silo roof restoration, and a variety of other services that are indispensable to agricultural concerns throughout the contiguous United States. We welcome you to contact us today for an inspection and estimate!