Each year, some farmers risk their lives when they enter large grain bins to remove clumped or rotting grain while machinery is still running. Much like quicksand, flowing grain can bury a worker within seconds.
Because these accidents have become all too common, Nationwide is launching its seventh annual Nominate Your Fire Department Contest in conjunction with Grain Bin Safety Week Feb. 16-22, 2020. The goal is to prevent injuries in the first place by promoting safe bin-entry procedures, such as maintaining quality grain, testing bin atmosphere for toxic gases and wearing proper safety equipment.
Since 2014, Nationwide has awarded grain bin rescue tubes and training to 111 fire departments in 26 states. Four of these fire departments have already put their tubes and training to use by rescuing workers trapped in grain bins. Most recently in June 2019, the Wauzeka Fire Department in Wisconsin utilized its rescue tube to save the life of a farmer trapped for more than an hour before he was discovered by a truck driver.
“Thanks to the training provided by Nationwide and its partners, every emergency responder had a good understanding of the steps they needed to take, and we were able to achieve the ultimate goal – the victim survived and everyone returned home. I can safely say without the grain bin rescue training, we would not have been as prepared or as effective in responding to the situation,” said Nick Zeeh, fire chief for the Wauzeka Fire Department.
In 2018, there were 61 documented agricultural-confined space related
incidents, which included grain bin entrapments, according to Purdue University². That’s a 13% increase from 2017, but Purdue estimates that many of these cases go unreported each year.
To help prevent further deaths and injuries, Nationwide collaborates each year with the National Education Center for Agricultural Safety to provide safety training. The director of NECAS travels to training locations with a state-of-the-art grain entrapment simulator and rescue tube. The comprehensive training sessions include classroom education and a rescue simulation with the entrapment tool, which is loaded onto a 20-foot trailer and able to hold about 100 bushels of grain.
“Nationwide created this program and joined forces with partners across the country to make it happen for a single purpose — to save lives,” said Brad Liggett, president of Nationwide Agribusiness, the No. 1 farm insurer¹. “We understand the importance of the work that farmers are doing every day, and we will continue to make the rescue tubes and training available as long as these dangers exist.”
Grain Bin Safety Week runs from Feb. 16-22, 2020, and nominations for the Nominate Your Fire Department Contest are open until April 30³.
“Grain Bin Safety Week would not happen without the generous support of our sponsors,” Liggett added. “We would like to thank every sponsor for making this week and contest a reality.”
For more information about the program, purpose or nomination process, visit the Grain Bin Safety Week website.