Corn silage harvest season is upon us. While chopping in the southern United States may be wrapped up, many locations in the North are just gearing up for this busy time of the year.
Horizontal bunker silos have become a popular way to store feed, and a great sense of accomplishment is felt once those piles of silage are packed and covered for the year ahead. Bunker silos and drive-over piles do come with their own safety hazards, so an article in Cornell University's PRO-DAIRY e-Alert offered these reminders from the OSHA Work Group to help keep people working in and around these storage areas safe during harvest.
If new silage is added to a bunker where some of last year's silage remains, the location where the two types of feed meet should be marked. This area can be very unstable during removal and could collapse.
Don't put new silage on top of existing piles already covered in plastic, as feed can easily slip off the top of the pile during silage removal.
Pile height should not exceed the reach of unloading equipment.
Packing tractors should be ROPS (rollover protection structure) equipped. All operators should use the seat belt.
Safest packing is achieved when driving up and down the pile. A general guideline is to create no more than a 3:1 slope. Aim to minimize exterior side slopes and beware of soft spots.
Only people with equipment experience should be allowed to pack feed. Any new packing operators should receive training.
Authorized personnel should be the only people allowed in the filling area.
When it comes to covering that fresh supply of feed, the OSHA Work Group also offered advice for the covering crew. They recommend holding a safety meeting with everyone involved before working the piles. Determine who will work near the edges, and advise everyone else to stay away.
They also said to make sure workers are not wearing shoes with slick surfaces, and remind workers to watch out for each other. Horseplay on top of the pile should never be allowed.
September 5, 2016