SA: Incident alert issued over grain silo collapse

Tuesday, 26 June, 2018 - 13:15
Incidents & prosecutions
Industry news
National News
South Australia

Safework SA was recently notified of an incident in which a full grain silo collapsed near Mallala, and while workers were in the vicinity at the time no-one was injured.

Grain silos on farms are an integral part of farm infrastructure and have a variety of uses in areas servicing the farming community.

In situ grain silos on farms have been associated with various incidents including falls from heights, engulfment, structural collapse and being damaged by moving vehicles, creating risk to the health and safety of workers.

In the incident alert SafeWork SA reminded workers of the risks associated with in situ grain silos on farms, and persons conducing a business or undertaking (PCBU) are reminded of the need for regular maintenance and inspection of silos.

Obligations and control measures for owners of siloes include:

  • Ensure regular silo inspection and maintenance is conducted, and where required the structural integrity of the silo is assessed by a competent person.
  • Consider structural inspection after extreme weather events.
  • Do not enter, work inside, on, above or beneath a silo while filling or emptying is occurring.
  • Comply with requirements for safe working in confined spaces.
  • Always ensure in situ silos with physical damage (e.g. by impact from mobile plant) are assessed and repaired by a competent person or prior to attaching additional load to the silo e.g. winches or hydraulic lifts.

A previous SafeWork SA safety alert on the same issue noted that incidents involving in situ grain silos may be under-reported due to persons conducting a business or undertaking (farmers) not understanding the requirements to report injuries to the regulator or the incident being relatively minor or regarded as a near-miss incident.

Risks include falls from height while accessing the top of silos to open/close hatches or while checking fill levels within the silo or for maintenance work.

There is also risk of engulfment within the silo when simultaneous activities/tasks occur or when damage to the silo goes undetected or unreported causing failure of the structure.