Grain Bin Safety

Grain bins store dry grain such as corn, soybeans, wheat, and oats before processing. They are metal cylinder structures available at varying heights with peaked metal roofs and typically have staircases or ladders and walkways on the outside.

Sukup Grain StorageThe bins are easily recognizable in agricultural areas because of their silver exteriors made from vented corrugated steel and wide diameter.

The hazards posed by grain bins are serious for agricultural workers and can be deadly. Moving grain behaves like quicksand, quickly trapping workers and causing suffocation. Therefore, it is crucial for workers to understand how a grain bin functions and how grain ‘behaves’ to ensure safe operation.

 

Flowing Grain

Grain enters the bin through elevators and exits it through an opening at the center bottom, using gravity to push it out. The movement of grain during this process causes it to move quickly, pulling grain to the center and down. A worker can quickly become trapped if the grain begins to move while they are inside.

 

Crusting or Bridging of Grain

When grain is stored, it can form a crust or bridge on the surface, allowing invisible voids (open spaces) to form below. This top layer of crust can collapse when the grain below moves or is weighted on. If a worker walks across this crust, it will break and they will fall into the grain below, quickly becoming buried.

 

Grain Piles

Grain can build up on the sides of the grain bin when stored in poor conditions. These grain piles or masses can collapse when being broken up, causing a grain ‘avalanche’ without warning. If a worker is next to these vertical piles of grain as they collapse, they will be buried instantly.

 

Grain can engulf workers in seconds. Once a worker is knee-deep in grain, they will not be able to escape without assistance, the pressure on their legs will be severe and they will quickly become unable to move. Training, site signage, and a buddy system are paramount to ensure safety when operating around grain bins.

Safety Tips for Employers:

  1. Provide adequate training and testing to ensure the competency of all employees working with grain bins.
  2. Provide long poles for employees to break up crusted grain without entering the bin.
  3. Provide safety harnesses and ropes for all staff who may need to enter grain bins.
  4. Ensure adequate staffing levels to allow a buddy system for any employee entering a grain bin; one employee to stand watch while the other enters the bin.
  5. Air testing equipment should be available to test the grain bin air before entry.
  6. Install ladders inside grain bins for emergency exits should an employee need to escape quickly.

Safety Tips for Grain Bin Operators:

  1. Always turn off and lock out powered unloading equipment, augers, and fans before entering.
  2. Wear a body harness with a lifeline or a boatswain’s chair before entering a bin.
  3. Don’t walk on the grain in a bin to encourage it to flow.
  4. Ensure you have a buddy stationed outside the bin; this person should be trained to assist you if you need help.
  5. Do not enter a bin when bridging or grain build-up on the sides has occurred.
  6. Always stay near the outer wall and keep walking if the grain should start to flow. Get to the bin ladder or safety rope as quickly as possible.
  7. Test the air in the bin before entering to ensure sufficient oxygen and no combustible or toxic gases are present.
  8. When working in a grain bin wear a dust filter or filter respirator.

 

Workers should only be entering a grain bin when absolutely necessary and when other workers are available to assist. All employees working on-premises with grain bins should be trained on the hazards and the safety precautions needed to minimize risks. Additionally, signage at the facility should remind staff of the dangers and necessary safety precautions for grain bins.

Grain Bin Safety2022-04-18T13:46:03-07:00

Agricultural Facilities: Dust Safety

Silos, grain bins, and the processing of agricultural material, for example grain, produce dangerous airborne particles and dust. These dust particles create numerous hazards to your employees, products, and facility, including:

  • exposed employees can develop severe skin conditions or asthma related to dust exposure and inhalation,
  • quality control issues caused by cross-contamination of products due to dust,
  • damage to equipment requiring maintenance and downtime, and
  • explosions due to suspended dust clouds mixed with air and easily ignited by equipment.

Managing the risks created by dust particles starts with conducting a dust hazard analysis (DHA) that will identify the characteristics of dust within your facility and test the dust explosivity. In addition, a DHA is helpful for an owner to understand what type of dust mitigation practices are needed within their facility.

dust control

Dust Control
Housekeeping
OSHA’s Grain Handling Standards require every grain handling facility to have a written housekeeping program to help pinpoint and mitigate safety risks. The program must include directions on:

    • Inspection frequency
    • Cleaning frequency
    • Cleaning methods
    • Spills and leak management
    • Dust control equipment

Proper housekeeping practices ensure continuous measurement and trends of airborne particles and early identification of any changes. Regular interval inspections and cleaning will mitigate risks before dangerous dust levels are present.

Dust Control and Extraction Systems
As you explore solutions to capture and contain dust within your facility, knowing about the various system options is essential.

    1. Source capture
      Source capture systems usually are primary dust control systems. They use source capture arms, slotted dust hoods, or smaller slotted hoods with side shields placed over the work area producing the dust. These systems are the first defense against dust as they remove it ‘at the source’ of contamination.
    2. Enclosures
      Creating enclosed areas for the source capture systems with curtains or walls can further minimize dust contamination. However, these should not interfere with the workspace and encompass the entire process area that creates dust.
    3. Ambient ventilation
      Ambient systems are used as stand-alone or secondary solutions alongside source capture and enclosure systems.
      An ambient system is a centralized whole-facility solution that continually cleans and processes the air from the entire building. It can use one central air system with filters or multiple smaller collectors and is best suited to filter large entire work areas because they do not require hoods. Employees are still often required to wear personal protection equipment in ambient ventilation system environments because they do not remove particles from any breathing zones.

When looking for an equipment supplier for dust systems, it is paramount their service includes:

    • the knowledge and experience of your products and processing equipment,
    • knowledge about regulatory compliance for your facility,
    • a full range of equipment for your dust control needs,
    • testing services (in-house or with partners), and
    • training for your employees on equipment.

 

Beyond managing and avoiding risks, many agriculture processing operators are subject to regulatory compliance. These often vary by jurisdiction, and therefore it is essential to know which standards apply to your facility. The most common standards come from the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), which requires DHA’s for all existing and new processing facilities (NFPA 652 came into effect on September 7, 2020). The NFPA standards are commonly enforced by OSHA (OSHA General Duty Clause, Section 5(a)(1)) and therefore are a good starting point to understand regulatory compliance.

A well-designed, maintained, and operated dust collection system is an integral part of your facilities operations, your workers’ health, and regulatory compliance.

– – – –

Additional resources:

The National Feed and Grain Association provides a sample Housekeeping Program free online (page 4).
Donaldson Torit: Combustible Dust Management
OSHA Bulletin: Combustible Dust in Industry: Preventing and Mitigating the Effects of Fire and Explosions
OSHA: Agricultural Operations Guidance
NFPA: Standard on the Fundamentals of Combustible Dust

Agricultural Facilities: Dust Safety2022-03-03T15:39:33-08:00

2021 Section 179 New/Used Equipment Tax Deduction

Section 179 allows businesses to take an immediate deduction for business expenses related to depreciable assets such as new and used processing equipment. With a maximum deduction of $1,050,000, businesses can lower their current-year tax liability rather than capitalizing an asset and depreciating it over time in future tax years.  Contact your tax preparer today to see if this opportunity could assist in your next equipment purchase.

 

 

 

 

2021 Section 179 New/Used Equipment Tax Deduction2021-09-09T14:58:54-07:00

Offices Closed Monday, July 5th

Our offices will be closed on Monday, July 5th so our employees can enjoy a long Independence weekend with their family. Regular business hours will resume on Tuesday, July 6th. 

Have a wonderful and safe Independence Day!

Sincerely, 

West Coast Companies

 

Offices Closed Monday, July 5th2021-07-01T11:16:49-07:00

2021 Summer Idaho Eastern Oregon Seed Association-Gold Sponsors

 

The 2021 Summer Idaho Eastern Oregon Seed Association (IEOSA) Convention is right around the corner! Are you ready?

As a Gold Sponsor, we’ll have a booth available for discussing processing equipment solutions, and trends we are seeing in the industry. Jack Forest and Travis Parish (also Past President of IEOSA) will be ready to see you!

June 14-16, 2021 – Shore Lodge, McCall Idaho

2021 Summer Idaho Eastern Oregon Seed Association-Gold Sponsors2021-08-16T08:41:59-07:00

Corporate Office Santiam Fire Update

We’ve been receiving concerned calls from valued customers and industry friends pertaining to our Salem office location and the Santiam Canyon fire. Even though it is smokey here, our office is still a safe distance from this fire. If we temporarily close this location tomorrow, we will switch to remote services, so we can continue to serve our customers. As for today, we will be closing this location at 4pm so our employees can get home safely and help with evacuations of extended family and friends. We will continue to post updates on our website, as well as our Facebook and LinkedIn social sites as they arise.

This picture is looking east towards the fire. Our main concern, thoughts, and prayers lie with our customers, friends, family, and surrounding communities that have been affected by this natural disaster

 

Corporate Office Santiam Fire Update2020-09-08T17:32:42-07:00

Essential Business Designation During COVID-19

 Dear Customers & Suppliers,

In compliance with the Department of Homeland Security & CISA (Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Security Agency), West Coast Companies has been deemed an essential business as we offer equipment, supplies, parts and service to many of the necessary supply chains; food and agriculture, chemical, energy, mining and construction. Considering this, we will remain fully operational and available to provide support to our processing partners during these unprecedented times.   

While operational, we will continue to strictly adhere to the CDC & WHO guidelines in keeping both our employees and customers safe. In doing so, we are providing safe “social distancing” pick-up points at our offices for parts & supplies as well as direct ship options.

Our sales representatives will be available via phone and email, and our main offices will be fielding calls during normal business hours. Visit our website, wcsmsc.com for continued updates, product information and specials on our in-stock new & used offerings.

Please don’t hesitate to contact us if you have questions or if we can assist with your processing needs. We appreciate your continued support and wish you, your family and your business the best.   

                    

Dwayne Hayden-President of West Coast Companies 

Essential Business Designation During COVID-192020-03-27T15:37:16-07:00

COVID-19 Business Operation Updates from our President

March 20, 2020

 

Dear Valued Customers,

West Coast Companies will provide continued support to all our industrial & agricultural customers through these uncertain times. We are staying abreast on the evolving COVID-19 situation and are diligently taking steps to ensure customer & employee safety while establishing business plans for in-house and remote operations as the state-of-affairs evolves.

Currently, both our Oregon and Idaho offices are functioning as normal. We have expanded our sanitization efforts for each facility, and our employees are following all appropriate protocols directed by the CDC & WHO. Thanks to technology, we have the means to proceed seamlessly should local protocols require any or all our offices to close.

Our sales representatives, as usual, have remote operation capability and can continue to work on your orders and future project needs. Please feel free to reach out to your usual sales representative or call our toll-free line, 800-970-7333. As with normal operations, you’ll always receive a voice at the end of your call during business hours.

We have a healthy part & supply stock at both of our Idaho & Oregon offices, and we are diligently working with our delivery companies to quickly send out orders. So far, our delivery companies are not seeing delays, however the earlier you contact us with your needs, the quicker we can get these to you without interruptions.

Being a family owned company, we sincerely value our customers and employees. We will take every stride necessary to ensure the health and well being of both during this uncertain time, while providing as seamless of a business experience as possible.

Thank you for your continued patronage, trust and support of West Coast Companies during these challenging times.

 

Wishing you, your family and business the best,

Dwayne Hayden

 

COVID-19 Business Operation Updates from our President2020-03-20T16:24:38-07:00

A Week In Washington DC

Out of 19 Oregon State Small Business Development Center (SBDC) programs, and their corporate clients, West Coast Companies was honored to be chosen as the guest client to accompany the Chemeketa SBDC delegation last month to Washington DC. Throughout the week we met with the offices of Senator Wyden, Senator Merkley, Congressman Schrader and Congresswoman Bonamici to discuss how the SBDC programs benefit local communities through business development and growth.

The Office of Congresswoman Bonamici

West Coast Companies, Small Business Development Center, Senator Jeff Merkley

Senator Merkley Introductions

Congressman Schrader, West Coast Companies

Congressman Schrader’s Office

In addition to these discussions, we had the opportunity to review agricultural industry topics such as succession planning, trade concerns, hemp processing & banking regulations.  Sharing our concerns & highlights of the agricultural industry, and hearing in turn what strategies are being put into place to address these topics, was enlightening.

Chemeketa Community College, West Coast Companies

We happen to run into the Chemeketa Community College Board of Directors while there! Small world with impeccable timing!

Outside of these meetings, we attended a small intimate trade show of other companies around the country that participate in the National SBDC programs. These companies included entrepreneurs that are harnessing solar power into cooking pots for camping enthusiast and third world countries as well as an ex-Patriot NFL player, Jarvis Green, who own’s a successful seafood company, called Oceans 97.

Being the second generation of leadership for West Coast Companies (first with American Ag Systems) we have many ideas on how we can continue to build upon our custom processing solutions. The Chemeketa SBDC program has certainly assisted us in our company vision and future aspirations. Sharing the good work they are doing, and being able to discuss the agricultural industry with policy makers, was exciting. We are honored to have received this opportunity.

Merrissa & Andrew Burleigh

 

 

—Merrissa Hayden-Burleigh

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Week In Washington DC2020-03-18T16:21:03-07:00

Section 179 at a Glance

We know the last thing you want to do is think about taxes! But now is the time to consider what large purchases you may have to make that would benefit you if done by the end of the year.

With 2019 coming to a close, we want to bring your attention to Section 179. Haven’t heard the details? In short, Section 179 will allow businesses to deduct the full purchase price of qualifying agricultural and industrial processing equipment purchased or financed during the 2019 tax year.

That means that if you buy (or lease) a piece of qualifying equipment, you can deduct the FULL PURCHASE PRICE from your gross income. Think of it as a “loophole”. It’s an incentive created by the U.S. government to encourage businesses to buy equipment and invest in themselves. It is considered most beneficial to small businesses now, more than ever before. Section 179 can help with much needed tax relief while also giving your small business permission to take care of larger purchases that will serve in the growth of your company.

See the included image for an example as to how Section 179 works. Then call your West Coast Companies sales rep to find out how Section 179 can benefit you and the growth of your business!

Section 179 at a Glance2019-12-03T15:12:30-08:00
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