Farm Safety – Grain Handling Equipment

Harvest season is right around the corner.  As we all know this time of year can be very busy with many different activities happening at once.  Try to keep safety in mind especially around grain handling equipment.  There are many potential hazards to consider when handling grain, such as equipment entanglement, grain entrapment and engulfment, dust explosions, among others.

This fall, lower your risk of injury by using a safety checklist.


  • Check that all exposed moving machinery parts have guards, shields, or cages installed and in good condition to prevent entanglement, including auger flighting, conveyers, belts, and power-take-off (PTO) components.
  • Don’t wear loose or baggy clothing, tie back hair, and remove dangling drawstrings and jewelry that could get pulled into moving parts.
  • Lock-out the power to augers, conveyers, belts, and PTO components before performing maintenance or replacing parts so they can’t be accidentally turned on.
  • Steer clear of flowing grain, which can trap a person knee-deep in a matter of a few seconds and can completely submerge them in less than 20 seconds.
  • Work from outside of the bin whenever possible and use safe bin entry procedures including the buddy system when a bin must be entered.
  • Check that everyone knows how to de-energize grain loading and unloading equipment and lock-out the power sources so that grain moving equipment can’t be turned on while someone is inside of a bin.
  • Use hazard signage and teach kids and unexperienced people to stay out of stored grain, including bins, piles, and grain transport vehicles.
  • Keep the grain vacuum nozzle away from the area below your feet and keep an eye on the angle of the grain surface as you are removing grain. To prevent grain flow, the grain angle should be less than the grain’s angle of repose, which is around 21 degrees for corn and 23 degrees for soybeans.
  • Check that fire extinguishers are easily accessible at the grain storage site. Grain handling facilities naturally collect dust which can lead to explosions given the right conditions.
  • Clean off dust accumulated in grain legs and elevators and service bearings, belts, and motors regularly. Just a paper-thick layer of dust is combustible in a confined space and overheated equipment parts or static electricity can be an ignition source.
  • Recheck combine settings as grain condition changes to reduce kernel damage and collection of fines and trash. Dry conditions across Iowa may cause overly dry and brittle grain or uneven conditions across farms, making regular combine adjustments important.
  • If excess fines and broken kernels are collected, either clean the grain before it goes into the bin or core the bin multiple times during filling to remove fines accumulated in the center of the bin. Removing the center core of fines and broken grain will improve aeration in the bin and reduce the risk of grain spoilage and unloading issues down the road.

What exactly are pesticides and how do I select which one to use.

Originally posted in the Licking County Agricultural News, By: Dean Kreager

I was reminded by a phone call this week that there is a lot of misunderstanding about “Pesticides”.  This seems to have become a dirty word.  Many associate the word with death and destruction.  According to law a pesticide is “Any substance or mixture of substances intended for preventing, destroying, repelling, or mitigating any pest”.  Part of the confusion comes from products such as Roundup®.  This was originally a systemic broad spectrum herbicide that killed the majority of plants it was sprayed on.  The active ingredient is glyphosate.  Now many people refer to all glyphosate products as Roundup although there are many other brands.  To add to the confusion Roundup® is now also on the label of products that do not contain glyphosate but have other active ingredients.  These products include insecticides and selective herbicides for lawns.  This has led to the confusion that Roundup kills everything.

Home made weed and bug killers are also pesticides.  Use of all of these products are regulated by pesticide laws that need to be followed.    The shelves at garden stores are loaded with a wide variety of products and it is up to you to be sure you are using the correct product in the correct way.   Click here for a fact sheet providing a good understanding of pesticides and how to select and use them.

Teaching Youth to be Safe Around Livestock

Sabrina Schirtzinger, ANR Educator Knox County

A child feeding livestock with proper footwear.

Feeding livestock with proper footwear.

Owning and working livestock is the first step to teaching youth responsibilities on the farm. Younger children may not be aware of the dangers that come with this responsibility. As parents it is our duty to teach our children the proper ways to work with animals to ensure safety.

Begin with the basics:

Clean, Working Facilities

Barns should be free of tripping hazards and cluttered areas to decrease the risk of injury. Fences, gates, alleyways, and panels should be free of rusty nails, loose bolts, broken boards, and gaps in pens.

A key part of livestock handling safety is keeping equipment and facilities in proper working order.


Continue reading Teaching Youth to be Safe Around Livestock

Balancing Your Health and the Spring To-Do List

Richard Purdin, OSU Extension, Adams County ANR/CD Educator

Stressed farmer in the field.The month of May is a busy time on the farm, from making hay to building fence, planting crops, and tending to livestock. For many small and medium sized farms these tasks are commonly placed on the shoulders of a few individuals. With less labor force available on smaller farms, producers can easily become consumed in the work at hand and forget about taking care of their health and wellness. Here are a few steps you can take this spring to stay physically and mentally well.

Signs of Becoming Overstressed

Farming is a very stressful occupation, long work hours, seasonal demands, inconsistent weather, and finances can be a few of the many factors that can lead to stress on the farm. Farmers and farm workers need to learn the signs of stress. Some key factors of becoming over stressed include:

  • Lack of sleep or inability to sleep.
  • Moodiness or poor attitude.
  • Change in eating habits.
  • Depression or lack of communication with others.
  • Weakened immune system.

Continue reading Balancing Your Health and the Spring To-Do List

Health and Safety Recommendations for On-Farm Grain Bin Facilities

Source:  Wayne Dellinger, Dee Jepsen, OSU Extension

In the ten-year period from 2009 to 2018 Ohio had 9 fatalities in grain handling and grain storage facilities. Five of these fatalities were from suffocation and 2 were from falls from the structure, while the others involved auger entanglements. Purdue University reported 38 grain entrapments across the U.S. in 2019. Twenty-three of these entrapments resulted in a fatality.

February 21st begins Nationwide Insurance Grain Bin Safety Week. Being the season when dry grains are being hauled to market and bins are being emptied, it is appropriate to provide winter safety reminders for the primary concerns at your on-farm storage facilities.

For respiratory protection, an N95 mask as a minimum is recommended. These items do what they are designed to do – keep 95% of the respirable grain dust from entering your nose and mouth. The COVID-19 pandemic has made it tough for some farms to find a supply of N-95’s, but as essential workers, farmers need to access and wear this protection while at working at their bins. The N-95 will also help prevent inhalation of any vomitoxins present within the corn. Another respirator that may be easier to find is the P-100. These respirators have a longer life-span than the N-95’s and are more readily available. To protect against vomitoxins and other molds, use a High Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) cartridge with your P-100.

Continue reading Health and Safety Recommendations for On-Farm Grain Bin Facilities

Meat Processing Laws in Ohio and the U.S.

Originally posted in Ohio’s Country Journal

By Peggy Kirk Hall, director of agricultural law, Ohio State University Agricultural and Resource Law Program

Meat sales have been subject to serious supply chain issues wrought by COVID-19, raising many questions here in Ohio about who can process meat and where meat can be sold. In my opinion, explaining meat processing laws is nearly as difficult as summarizing the Internal Revenue Code. But one easy answer to the meat processing questions we’ve been receiving relates to Ohio’s participation in the Cooperative Interstate Shipment (CIS) Program established by the 2008 Farm Bill. Ohio was the first state to participate in CIS and is the largest of the seven approved state CIS programs. CIS participation means that a small Ohio processor can apply to operate as a “federally inspected” plant and sell meat across state lines, including through online sales.

Continue reading Meat Processing Laws in Ohio and the U.S.



By : Leah Douglas

For Jody Osmund, who runs Cedar Valley Sustainable Farm with his partner, Beth, in Ottawa, Illinois, the shuttering of public spaces to mitigate the spread of the new coronavirus presents a significant challenge. He typically distributes his farm shares at brewery taprooms around the Chicago area, which allows him to share a pint with customers while supporting local businesses. So how should he proceed when many bars and restaurants are closed, and heath guidelines demand that people keep their distance?

Enter the pool noodle.

Osmund used the noodle to mark out a safe distance between him and the members of his community-supported agriculture program at this week’s distribution site. “I’d take their name and get their CSA share. Then [I] would set it down for them and back away before they would pick it up,” he described via email. “It was a little awkward, but the pool noodle was disarming and brought a little levity.”

As the spread of the coronavirus causes many cities to curtail public gatherings, farmers who sell directly to customers at farmers’ markets and through CSAs are coming up with novel solutions at breakneck speed to keep their customers fed and their operations viable.

Some food distribution groups are even rethinking their entire delivery model, trying to ensure that farmers still have a market and customers still have access to fresh food.

Their adaptations include, of course, improving sanitary practices by frequently washing hands and offering sanitizer to customers. Farmers at markets are wearing gloves, handling produce themselves rather than having shoppers select items, and eliminating sampling. Those who distribute CSA shares are pre-bagging and bringing them to customers’ cars or operating in the parking lots of the closed business or churches where they would otherwise distribute.

Some organizations are piloting home delivery for the first time, as many shoppers are self-isolating or quarantined at home. Farm Fresh Rhode Island’s Market Mobile program typically delivers wholesale orders of local produce and other farm goods to restaurants and universities across the state. But this week, the group rolled out a new system that allowed individual households to place orders online and have food dropped off right at their door. Continue reading FARMERS AND FOOD GROUPS INNOVATE TO KEEP OPERATIONS VIABLE AS THE CORONAVIRUS SPREADS

Questions Regarding the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) on Farms with Employees

Gustavo M. Schuenemann, DVM, MS, PhD, Professor & Extension Veterinarian Jeffrey D. Workman, PhD, Extension Program Coordinator

Corona Virus In Red Background – Microbiology And Virology Concept – 3d Rendering

What is COVID-19 coronavirus?
COVID-19 is an infection caused by a novel (or new) strain of coronavirus. This strain is new; thus, people around the world do not yet have any immunity to the virus. Group immunity means a high enough proportion of individuals in a population are immune; thus, the majority will protect the few susceptible individuals because the pathogen is less likely to find a susceptible individual. This virus strain is very contagious before any signs or symptoms of sickness appear. It spreads very easily from person to person and has become a worldwide pandemic. In addition, this strain of virus can cause serious disease and death in elderly people and those with underlying health conditions such as heart disease, lung disease, and diabetes. Anyone who has a suppressed immune system (immunocompromised) is also considered high risk.

Are the risks and concerns regarding COVID-19 coronavirus different on a farm?
The difference between a farm and some other workplaces is that most work cannot be performed remotely. People must be physically present to feed, milk, and care for animals or crops. While automation may reduce the number of people necessary on some farms (e.g., robotic milkers, automatic feed pushers, automatic calf feeders, etc.), people are still needed onsite to operate and manage the automated systems as well as to provide care that cannot be automated.

Is there anyone available to communicate remotely with my employees at the farm?
Yes, we are available to assist farmers remotely via conference call (e.g., Zoom, WhatsApp). Please contact Dr. Jeff Workman at or Dr. Gustavo M. Schuenemann at (Ph: 614-625-0680).

Can livestock or other animals be infected with the COVID-19 coronavirus?
The Center for Disease Control and Preventions (CDC) has reported that while this virus seems to have emerged in China from an animal source, it is now spreading from person-to-person. There is no reason to believe that any animals including livestock or pets in the United States might be a source of infection with this new coronavirus.
There are bovine coronavirus infections that are caused by different strains of coronavirus such as: calf diarrhea, winter dysentery in cows, and bovine respiratory disease complex (shipping fever).
It is illegal and dangerous to use any vaccines or drugs labeled for cattle for human use. No current products will help prevent or cure COVID-19.
Merck Veterinary Manual:


Do farm workers develop a better immune systems?
Your immune system helps your body fight an infection from microorganisms. Microorganisms include bacteria, viruses, fungi (yeasts & molds), protozoa, and algae. The microorganisms that infect and cause disease are called pathogens. Being exposed to various pathogens commonly found on a farm can help your body develop some immunity. However, this novel strain of coronavirus is new and different from other strains of coronavirus in which you may have been previously exposed. COVID-19 appears to spread very easily between people because it is able to spread without people knowing they are infected and there is no immunity to the virus in the population.

How is this coronavirus different from the common cold or flu?
Many different respiratory viruses can cause the common cold, but rhinoviruses are the most common. Other virus such as coronaviruses, parainfluenza, and adenoviruses may also cause the common cold. Flu is caused by the influenza virus. Flu is considered to be a more serious and dangerous infection than the common cold. The COVID-19 coronavirus has many of the same signs and symptoms as the common cold and flu. It would be closest related to those coronavirus strains that do occasionally cause a common cold. However COVID-19 is different because it is novel meaning our bodies do not yet have any immunity, and it can cause serious disease and death in certain groups of people similar to an influenza virus.

How can I protect myself from getting COVID-19?

1) Social distancing: This helps to prevent spread of virus from person to person. Social distancing includes avoiding large groups of people and the closing of certain public businesses and events. Groups of people who are only in contact with those within their house or farm and are not in contact with other people are less likely to experience community spread. Avoid hand shaking when greeting someone and maintain 6 feet of distance from other people.
2) Proper hand washing and sanitation: It is extremely important you wash your hands frequently and after touching a high contact surface. The virus may live on surfaces for 2-3 days. If you touch a surface such as a doorknob or counter that has virus on it, and then you lick your fingers or touch your mouth, nose, eyes, or face, you could become infected. By washing your hands frequently and wearing disposable gloves, you decrease the risk of becoming infected or potentially spreading a virus to others. Most people still need to go to public places on occasion such as the grocery store and gas station. It is important to maintain 6 feet of distance from other people and wash your hands with soap and hot water for at least 20 seconds, or if a sink and soap aren’t available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer (at least 60% alcohol). Keep the bathrooms and break/kitchen area in your workplace and at home clean and disinfected.
3) Avoid any direct contact with individuals feeling sick or experiencing the symptoms/clinical signs of common cold or flu. With the exception of those responsible for providing care for sick individuals.

Should I report to work?
The short answer is “YES”, unless you are sick or experiencing the symptoms/signs: fever, dry cough, and shortness of breath.

What if I start to feel sick or are getting symptoms/signs?
Symptoms/signs are similar to the cold or flu: fever, dry cough, and shortness of breath. Emergency signs are difficulty breathing or shortness of breath, persistent pain or pressure in the chest, new confusion or inability to arouse, and bluish lips or face. Emergency signs require that you immediate call your health care provider for help. Do not go in-person as you might spread to others. By calling ahead, health care professionals can give you instructions and prepare for your arrival. You may also contact your manager or supervisor to help you contact the doctor’s office if you are experiencing these symptoms/signs.

How long will this concern about COVID-19 last?
All of the current changes are intended to reduce the spread. Eventually, a vaccine or treatment may be developed and manufactured that will allow protection of individuals and the population such as with the seasonal flu vaccine. No one knows for certain how long it will take for life to return to normal, but a few weeks or months of collective efforts will certainly make a huge difference within our community.
All farms should immediately implement
stricter biosecurity protocols for all outside
personnel and visitors.

For a PDF print out please click here- COVID-19_Handout_ENGLISH     COVID-19 Handout_SPANISH

Posted in Safety