A grain auger is a long tube used to raise and transport grain from the ground to the top of grain bins, load trucks from the grain bin or carry feed from a wagon to cattle feeders on a farm. It has a long, screw-shaped shank driven by a pulley or gear at the top. As the shank turns, the grain moves upwards in the tube. Unfortunately, however, it sometimes takes operators’ arms, legs, and scalps with it. This is because manufacturers often fail to include safety features such as shields and intake screens that would reduce the opportunity for to become wound up into the rapidly turning machinery.
Did You Know?
On a per-hour-of-use basis, augers are one of the most dangerous machines farm use.
Types of Grain Auger Accidents
Common injuries that result from operating grain augers include:
- Loss of limbs−Contact with and/or entanglement in the exposed screw at the intake end of the auger’s shaft often results in amputations.
- Cuts and Fractures−An auger’s sharp corkscrew blade rotates as it draws grain up. Coming into contact with an unguarded blade can result in worker mutilation.
- Electrocutions−Electrocution is a frequent result of moving a raised grain auger around the farm and coming into contact with electrical wires.
If you have suffered any of these injuries, if one of your family members has been injured or died driving an auger, or if you have lost wages due to auger injury, you may be entitled to compensation−including payments over and above Worker’s Compensation.
How to Minimize the Risk of Auger Accidents
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has compiled a list of safety tips for farmers who use grain augers:
- Barriers (e.g., fences) should be used to prevent persons not involved in the operation of an auger from entering the area near the auger.
- Children under 18 should not operate augers and should not enter the area near an auger.
- Before starting an auger, the operator should ensure that all protective shields, as supplied by the manufacturer, are in place and in good condition. The federal Occupational Safety & Health Association standard for safety of farm equipment requires placement of guards on some augers.
- Before service or repair, power should be shut off and the auger power source “locked-out” and “tagged.” (Locking out prevents power from being restored while maintenance is in progress, and tagging the switch indicates that power is disabled.)
- To prevent entanglement, wearing loose clothing or jewelry or who have long, untied hair should not operate augers.
- Workers should not step or jump on or over an auger while it is in operation.
- Grain augers always should be lowered to a horizontal position before being moved from one location to another. Workers always should observe the presence and location of power lines before raising an auger into position.
- Whenever possible, operators should ensure good footing while working around augers. Portable augers should be placed on dry, level ground or a gravel pad. Spilled grain should be removed between loads after the equipment has been turned off.
- Operators should never use their hands or feet to redirect the flow of grain or other materials into the auger.
- All farm and auger operators should be educated about safe operating procedures and hazards associated with augers.
- Augers should be clearly labeled as posing a hazard for entanglement and subsequent serious injury.
Compensation is Available
No matter how many safety precautions you take, you need to remember that augers are not designed safely, and when you’re injured by an auger, it is the equipment, not you, that is considered “defective”−a term that applies to a product’s poor design, improper manufacturing, lack of safety warning, or all three.
That means: You are not at fault, and you deserve compensation!
If you are an injured farm worker, if one of your family members has been injured or died driving an auger, or if you have lost wages due to auger injury, you may be entitled to compensation−including payments over and above Worker’s Compensation.
Manufacturers who design and distribute unsafe machinery should pay you for the losses you suffer due to using their products. You deserve compensation.
For a free and totally confidential consultation, contact the Farm Injury Resource Center.