Grain Bin Safety Week: How Rescue Tubes and Proper Training Will Save Lives

Glen Roberts

Did you know that the pressure of engulfing grain is so powerful, that it takes more than 1,500 pounds of force to free a body submerged under less than two feet of grain?

I must admit that although Cleveland Vibrator has supplied Industrial Vibrators and Equipment to the grain and feed industry for many decades, I was not aware until I took the Asmark Safety Course how many folks are trapped, injured or killed inside grain silos and feed mills. A lot of the grain safety training applies to just about all industries and mirrors the manufacturing industry, which I have  worked in and been associated for over 45 years. Two major things I picked up from this training were:

  1. Tag out and lock out is huge anytime you need to work on a piece of equipment, or when you are in an area that normally has running equipment.
  2. Checking your tools to make sure they are in good working order which includes inspection of the guards and making sure you have no frayed electrical cords. Generally, this is just good work ethics  in any work environment.

All the training was very good and the instructors knew what they were talking about. The one part of the training that really brought the importance of the safety course was the rescue tube. I wasn’t in the tube but it was obvious from one of my classmates who volunteered that you don’t need to be buried very deep to render escape by yourself virtually impossible. It emphasizes how critical grain storage bin safety training is and just how critical it is to have properly trained first responders. There is no doubt in my mind that this training is the difference between life or death and is a major factor in changing a response from a recovery to a rescue.

The rescue tube is a great life saving tool but just having one doesn’t insure success. From my practice rescue it’s a coordinated effort by more than one person and you simply don’t just set the tube section around person to be rescued and your done. You need to work it down around them and clear out the material around them inside the rescue tube in order to pull them free. It’s not easy, for sure, and is a lot of work coupled with the fear of not saving that person… I would say this is the most stressful part. The first responders deserve all the credit, for saving lives in these situations. They also deserve all of our support when their best efforts still can’t prevent a tragic ending.

As a company who have been in business for over 90 years, Cleveland Vibrator has managed many wonderful flow aid devices and continues to look at ways to make the grain storage industry safer.

  1. You wonder if portable vibrators that would easily attach to the rescue tube could aide in having the tube slide quicker and deeper around the person to be rescued.
  2. You wonder if some type of light curtain could be installed on each entrance that automatically shuts off any machinery in the area you are entering just by walking thru the entrance way.
  3. You wonder if preassembled access panels could be located at different levels of the grain silos that could be blown out by some type of mechanism which in turn would limit the time and effort to saw openings to release the material from the storage bins.

These are just some thoughts I personally ponder, it seems I too, have more questions than answers. However, I can conclude one thing: If it doesn’t look right or feel right, then let’s not go in there. 

You can follow more on this topic by following #GBSW15 on Twitter.
*Photo Credit:  Don McMasters / for The Midwest Center for Investigative Reporting


One Response to Grain Bin Safety Week: How Rescue Tubes and Proper Training Will Save Lives
  1. Michael Schwab Reply

    Hi. I’m a Captain of Reily VolFire/EMS dept. in butler county Ohio. We have the only rescue tube in the county. I would like more information on your trainings. Procedures and equipment. Thank you.

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