“The crop that’s in the bin is a perfect setup for accidents,” says Dave Altepeter.
“Last year’s crop was not mature and there were fines in the corn. Because of the fines, there’s a chance the grain can go out of condition,” he said.
Dave Altepeter has nearly 40 years of experience specializing in grain bins. An integral part of his business of constructing the steel storage structures focuses on safety.
The A & P Grain Systems president tells farmers to “stay out of the bins” when filled with grain as he discusses bin construction and maintenance. He hands out safety information and talks about the dangers with each contract.
Dave also urges customers to call him if they have problems with their bins and grain handling equipment. This year with the poor quality of grain being stored in bins, farmers were having trouble unloading grain due to blockages.
As a resolve, Dave’s Maple Park based company has loan-out augers for farmers to borrow to help with the grain flow.
With the temporary auger, they cut a hole above the bin floor and push a tube in the side of the bin wall. Then they insert a flight and a drivehead into the tube. This allows a farmer to unload from a different spot in the bin and avoid pluggage. This method prevents farmers and their employees from having to step foot in their grain bin while unloading grain.
Grain bin manufacturing companies are incorporating more safety features into new bin construction. The Sukup Manufacturing Company is a leader in safety, explains Melissa Altepeter-Brady, secretary-treasurer of the family business. A & P and their other company Vern’s Farm Supply, construct Sukup grain bins.
One of the newest safety features is a pulley-restraint anchor which is mounted inside the bin near the peak of the roof. The pulley is intended to be used for safety harness attachment and rescue.
Another relatively new feature is a CO2 sensor in the roof of the grain bin. The sensor will read CO2 levels in the bin and then alert farmers that grain may be going out of condition.
“Companies are manufacturing more safety features, but we still have a ways to go with safety in the agricultural industry,” said Dave.
No amount of grain is worth losing a life.