Skip to main navigation.

Grain Bin Safety

Grain bins: harvesting safely

By Abby Berry

As rewarding as it may be, farming is an extremely difficult job—and it ranks among the top 10 most dangerous professions in the United States. At KEM Electric, safety is top priority for all—our employees and our members.

Our farmers work hard to get the job done, and sometimes it’s easy to forget all the necessary steps to take when practicing safe operations. Grain bins are siloed spaces built for storing grain and fermented feed known as silage. These bins play an integral role in the efficiency and profitability of farm and ranch operations, and safety regulations should always be considered when working around these structures.

Whether you’re purchasing new grain bins or remodeling areas that contain existing ones, proximity to overhead power lines must be a considered factor.

Safe clearance. The National Electrical Safety Code requires an 18-foot minimum vertical clearance from the highest point of the filling port of the grain bin to nearby high-voltage wires and a 55-foot minimum distance from the power line to the grain bin wall. See the chart for further guidelines. Changes to landscaping and drainage work can affect clearance heights of power lines, so remember to check these measurements regularly.

Filling grain bins. High-voltage power lines are not insulated, so it’s important to remember to maintain an adequate high-wire clearance when using a portable auger, conveyor or elevator to fill your grain bin.

Moving equipment near grain bins. When moving equipment, such as a hopper or a scaffold, be aware of nearby power lines. Remember to maintain a 10-foot clearance to ensure safety.

Accidents can happen in a split-second, which is why KEM Electric reminds you to always use caution when working near power lines. If you are considering a plan for a new grain bin or reconstruction of an existing bin’s site, please contact KEM Electric at 701-254-4666 and let us assist you in maintaining a safe environment for you and your family.

Electrical Safety Around Grain Elevators

By Amber Bentley

Working around grain bins creates hazards that are often overlooked by even the most seasoned farm hands. Always keep these safety tips in mind:

Suffocation/engulfment

Entrapment can happen in a second when dealing with grain, which often is compared to quick sand. This is leading cause of death in storage bins.

  • Do not enter grain bins during active loading and unloading times

  • Never work alone

  • Make sure to wear proper safety equipment

Fires/explosions

When grain dust accumulates, it can sometimes create the right conditions to spark a fire. These fires are difficult to stop and usually end with a large explosion.

  • Be sure your ventilation system is working properly

  • Clean regularly to keep grain dust accumulations to a minimum

  • Do not smoke or ignite any other open flames while in the grain bin

Toxic atmospheres

Mold, fungi, and chemical fumes from decayed grains can create a deadly atmosphere.

  • Store fully dried grain at the proper moisture

  • Wear a mask or filter respirator to limit the amount of direct contact to the fumes

  • Try to keep animal and insect infestations to aminimum

Machine malfunctions

Machines also pose deadly risks, including amputation, entanglement, and electrocution. 

  • Do not operate these machines while inside the bins

  • Ensure that all equipment is properly guarded

  • Be on the lookout for overhead power lines

  • Check for frayed cables

  • Always wear safety belts or some form of protection