In the hierarchy of hazard controls, engineering solutions are too often overlooked. So it’s welcome news when someone develops a new engineering control for an industry which has suffered a significant number of worker fatalities.
The most common reasons for farm workers to enter a grain bin is to fix equipment or free lodged grain.
We’ve all read about incidents in which workers become buried because they were “walking down the grain” in a silo. The workers can be sucked into the flowing grain or covered in an avalanche.
Enter the “Bin Bot.”
Invented by Jerome Mack, a farmer in Leola, SD, the robot goes into grain bins so people don’t have to.
The Bin Bot is controlled remotely and designed to move equipment or grain in a bin. (See video of the Bot in action here.)
Mack will offer the robot for sale to commercial grain facilities for between $15,000 and $25,000.
OSHA says the number of suffocation deaths from grain engulfment more than doubled from 2006 to 2010. In 2010, 51 workers were engulfed in grain bins, and 26 died, the worst year ever for these types of fatalities.
And the deaths continue. Just last month, a 19-year-old Minnesotan died when he fell into corn inside a bin. Sadly, many of the grain bin deaths have been young men under the age of 25.
Do you have an example of an engineering control at your company that has reduced hazards for workers? Let us know about it in the comments below.