THE National Grain & Feed Assn. (NGFA) recently published a sweep auger guide designed to assist grain handlers in developing and implementing a safety policy for operating sweep augers.
"Over the past several years, there has been uncertainty within the industry regarding what type of sweep auger equipment can be used and the types of procedures that the Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) may find acceptable," NGFA director of safety and regulatory affairs Jess McCluer said. "This guide was developed to help the industry navigate OSHA's new policy for operating sweep augers safely inside grain bins."
The NGFA guide reviews the 10 criteria outlined in a May 2013 OSHA national office memorandum to its regional administrators regarding employee entry into bins with mobilized sweep augers. The criteria in the memo are based on a recent settlement between OSHA and an NGFA member company.
For example, under the OSHA policy memo, employees are allowed to be physically inside a bin with an energized sweep auger, provided that:
* The only unguarded portion of the auger is in the front;
* Subfloor augers are guarded by secure grates or other guards;
* There is an engineering control (such as a standard guardrail attached to the auger, a portable guardrail trailing 7 ft. behind the auger or a dead-man's switch on an operating control inside an enclosure or attached to a handle that keeps the employee 7 ft. back from the auger), and
* The facility's OSHA bin entry permit procedures are followed.
Also detailed in the NGFA guide is compliance with OSHA's existing bin entry procedures, as specified in the agency's grain handling standard (29 CFR 1910.272), such as requirements for obtaining bin entry permits, providing proper entry equipment, stationing trained and equipped observers outside the bin and other requirements.
The guide also contains a sample sweep auger policy template based on the 10 points in the OSHA memo that may be useful to managers in developing and implementing such a policy at their facilities.
The guide is free and can be viewed on the NGFA website at www.ngfa.org.