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Alert: Augers on Farms

Grain augers are a significant cause of farm injuries. Many injuries are caused by workers being drawn into the auger. Several farming related critical and fatal injuries have been reported to the Ministry of Labour.

Background

On farms, the hazards associated with the use of augers can be minimized by the use of a guard around the inlet end of the auger. Should a guard be impractical, then other reasonable precautions must be taken to ensure workers do not come in contact with moving parts..

Guards that are supplied with the auger are often removed because:

  • the guard may reduce the auger’s capacity;
  • the opening to the bin was too small to allow the guarded auger to be used;
  • guards make the positioning of the auger difficult;
  • guards slow the unblocking of augers;
  • guards impede the flow of product into the auger.

Issues with auger guards can be overcome with the use of guards designed for the specific operation for which they are being used.

Hazards

Augers can present several safety risks for workers, including entanglement in the auger shaft. An auger can quickly tangle an operator’s hand or foot unless precautions are taken to prevent entanglement. Most injuries are crush injuries or amputation of fingers, hands, arms and feet.  In some situations, injuries sustained may be fatal.

Controls

Augers are used extensively in the farming sector in which the legislative standard is specified in the Occupational Health and Safety Act as taking “every precaution reasonable in the circumstances for the protection of a worker”. In most circumstances the most practical reasonable precaution would be to provide a guard on the inlet of the auger so that access to a moving part that may endanger the worker is prevented.

Appropriate protective footwear and tight fitting clothing should be worn to reduce the hazards associated with augers.

Employers should also ensure that workers who are using augers are aware of the dangers associated with the equipment and how to safely use augers including how to safely clear obstructions in the auger.

NOTE:  In workplaces where the Regulation for Industrial Establishments applies, augers must be guarded in such a manner that the worker is unable to access a moving part that may endanger the worker.

For more information contact:

This Ministry of Labour Alert has no legal effect and does not constitute and is not a substitute for legal advice. If you require specific assistance with respect to the interpretation of a legislative provision and its potential application to you please contact your legal counsel.

Remember that while complying with occupational health and safety laws, you are also required to comply with applicable environmental laws.

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