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Safe Grain and Silage Handling


DHHS (NIOSH) Publication Number 95-109
cover of 95-109

DISCLAIMER: Mention or implication of any company name or product does not constitute endorsement by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health.

About This Booklet

“When tillage begins, other arts follow. The farmers therefore are the founders of human civilization.”
—Daniel Webster, 1840
American statesman, Orator

Grain-handling machinery is the second largest cause of farm machinery related deaths and also causes many severe disfiguring injuries and amputations. Many grain-handling hazards can be avoided. The goal of this booklet is to point out these hazards and suggest practical ways to prevent injury. These suggestions were gathered from agricultural engineers and safety experts throughout the world, but primarily from the United States and Canada.

This guide is organized into five separate sections: harvesting, transportation, storage, conveying, and processing. Each section discusses the hazards for one of these five grain- or silage-handling activities. Since these sections are meant to stand alone, some information is discussed in more than one section.

This booklet may recommend the use of safety equipment that your machinery does not have. If you have any questions about safety practices, or about obtaining or installing safety equipment, contact your local equipment dealer or Cooperative Extension Service safety specialist. Either of these resources can help you make your farm a safer place to work.

The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) encourages the photocopying and distribution of part or all of this booklet to all those involved with grain- or silage-handling activities.

Authors and Acknowledgements

This document was prepared by Karl A. Snyder, Ph.D., Agricultural Engineer, and Thomas G. Bobick, P.E., Safety Engineer, of the Division of Safety Research, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health.


The authors would like to thank the many contributors who provided valuable assistance and suggestions during the preparation and editing of this handbook.

Ronald L. Stanevich, Acting Chief, Protective Technology Branch, Division of Safety Research, NIOSH, provided insight, long-term support and direction, and helped us to separate the grain from the chaff. Information on specific topics was provided by David L. Hard, Ph.D., Safety Specialist, Division of Safety Research, NIOSH; John A. Kramer, Extension Safety Specialist, Kansas State University; and Charles V. Schwab, Ph.D., Assistant Professor and Extension Safety Specialist, Iowa State University. Editorial, formatting, and document preparation assistance was provided by Linda L. Morton and Paul R. Keane, Writer-Editors, and Herbert I. Linn, Chief, Information Management and Dissemination Activity, Division of Safety Research, NIOSH. The artwork and document format were designed by Pavlina Vagoun-Gutierrez, Morgantown, West Virginia.