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College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences

Grain Handling Safety

Grain handling and grain handling facilites can expose workers to numerous serious and life threatening hazards. These hazards can be classified into two catagories: health hazards and physical hazards. Grain handling hazards can found throughout the process and be present in three basic areas: in the field at harvest, around the grain handling facility, and inside the grain bin. Grain handling facilities are facilities that may receive, handle, store, process and ship bulk raw agricultural commodities.

Hazards include: fires and explosions from grain dust accumulation, suffocation from engulfment and entrapment in grain bins, falls from heights and crushing injuries and amputations from grain handling equipment.

Many grain handling facilites will have multiple confined space areas. These areas need to be identified and marked. Employees should be trained on machine hazards, health hazards, common causes of grain entrapment, confined space program, and site specific procedures.

Entry into a grain storage area with the potential of engulfment or hazardous atmosphere will require a Confined Space Entry Permit. The Confined Space Entry Permit is the most important tool for assuring safety during entry in confined spaces with potentially hazardous atmospheres. The entry permit process guides our EHS team, supervisors, and workers through a systematic evaluation of the space to be entered. The permit should be used to establish appropriate plan of action for the conditions, before each entry into the confined space. This will also include a plan for emergency rescue / retrieval and emergency responder contacts in the event of an emergency.

If you need a Confined Space Entry Permit, please contact Kent McGuire at or 292-0588 or Cassi Sewell at or (330)263-3663. Additionally, Confined Space Entry Permits can be requested by using the EHS Service Request Form.

OSHA Grain Handling Safety Overview
OSHA Fact Sheet: Worker Entry into Grain Storage Bins
Grain Storage Structure Entry Procedures (Grain Handling Safety Coalition)
Grain Bin Entry Permit (written by Ohio Risk Coordinator Group)
Guidance for Sweep Auger Operations in Grain Bins
OSU Ag Safety - Grain Safety Poster (pdf)
National Safety Council - Grain Storage Fact Sheet
Great Plains Center - Grain Engulfment and Entrapment
Grain Handling Safety Coalition


If you have any questions regarding CFAES confined spaces, please contact Kent McGuire at or 292-0588. You may also contact the OSU Environmental Health and Safety Office online at or by phone at (614) 292-1284.


Reviewed / Updated: 11/6/20 K. McGuire