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Alert: Sweep Augers in Silos on Farms

Disclaimer: This resource has been prepared to help the workplace parties understand some of their obligations under the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA) and regulations. It is not legal advice. It is not intended to replace the OHSA or the regulations. For further information please see full disclaimer.

Many incidents involving machinery at farm operations have been reported to the Ministry of Labour. Sweep auger equipment in silos can be extremely dangerous unless safety precautions are followed. Some farm workers – while installing, servicing and repairing sweep augers in silos – have been drawn into the auger mechanisms. Recently, while cleaning out and dislodging corn silage in a silo on a farm with the sweeper auger, two farmers came into contact with the energized moving parts of the sweep auger. This resulted in severe injuries to both farmers.

Background

On farms, employers who are installing, servicing and repairing a sweep auger in a silo should provide a worker with training and ensure supervision is provided. The employer must take every reasonable precaution in the circumstances to protect a worker. This would include protecting workers from coming into contact with the moving parts of the sweep auger. An employer must also take every precaution reasonable in the circumstances to protect workers from other potential hazards associated with entering silos.

Locations and sectors

Sweep augers are used extensively in the farming sector.

Hazards

All augers can present several safety risks for workers, including entanglement with the auger’s moving parts. An auger can quickly entangle an operator’s arms, hand or foot unless precautions are taken to prevent entanglement. Most injuries can involve amputation of fingers, hands, arms and feet. In some situations, injuries sustained may be fatal. The manufacturer’s specifications and recommendations of various types of augers should be followed by the employer.

Suggested precautions

  • Signage – The employer shall under clause 25(2)(h) of the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA) take every precaution reasonable in the circumstances for the protection of any worker, which may include posting a clearly legible and visible warning sign at the entrance to the silo that warns workers of the entanglement hazards.
  • Lockout – The employer shall under clause 25(2)(h) of the OHSA take every precaution reasonable in the circumstances for the protection of any worker from accidental start up through the use of lockout when installing, servicing or repairing a sweep auger.
  • Work procedures – The employer shall under clause 25(2)(h) of the OHSA take every precaution reasonable in the circumstances for the protection of any worker, which may include developing safe work procedures when servicing or repairing the sweep auger for workers who may enter a silo and may be exposed to any potential hazards. Interlocks should not be made ineffective and/or defeated prior to entry into the silo.
  • Manufacturers' instructions – The employer shall under clause 25(2)(h) of the OHSA take every precaution reasonable in the circumstances for the protection of any worker, which may include following instructions from the manufacturers of silos and sweep augers on measures and procedures for safe entry into a silo in which a sweep auger is present. Any manufacturers' recommendations and/or specifications relating to safe entry and to protecting the health and safety of a worker should be followed. The employer should ensure that the guards supplied by the manufacturer are in place.

Relevant legislation requirements

The Ontario Occupational Health and Safety Act applies, with some limitations and conditions, to all farming operations (O. Reg. 414/05) that have paid workers under the Act. It does not apply to a farming operation operated by a self-employed person who does not have paid workers.

Under section 25 of the OHSA

The employer shall:

  • take every precaution reasonable in the circumstances for the protection of a worker [clause 25(2)h]
  • provide information, instruction and supervision to a worker to protect the health or safety of the worker [clause 25(2)a]

Under section 27 of the OHSA

The supervisor shall:

  • ensure that a worker works in the manner and with the protective devices, measures and procedures required by the Act and the regulations [clause 27(1)a]
  • ensure that a worker uses or wears the equipment, protective devices or clothing that the worker’s employer requires to be used or worn [clause 27(1)b]
  • advise a worker of the existence of any potential or actual danger to the health or safety of the worker of which the supervisor is aware [clause 27(2)a]

Under section 28 of the OHSA

A worker shall:

  • work in compliance with the provisions of this Act and the regulations [clause 28(1)a]
  • use or wear the equipment, protective devices or clothing that the worker’s employer requires to be used or worn [clause 28(1)b]
  • report to his or her employer or supervisor the absence of or defect in any equipment or protective device of which the worker is aware and which may endanger himself, herself or another worker [clause 28(1)c]
  • not use or operate any equipment, machine, device or thing or work in a manner that may endanger himself, herself or any other worker [clause 28(1)d]
  • not remove or make ineffective any protective device required by regulations or by his or her employer, without providing an adequate temporary protective device and when the need for removing or making ineffective the protective device has ceased, the protective device shall be replaced immediately [clause 28(2)a]

For more information

Workplace Safety & Prevention Services
http://wsps.ca/Home.aspx

Ministry of Labour
ontario.ca/labour

ServiceOntario e-laws
www.e-laws.gov.on.ca

Or contact the Ministry of Labour Health & Safety Contact Centre at 1-877-202-0008.

Reference material

Alert: Augers on Farms

Occupational Health and Safety Guidelines for Farming Operations in Ontario

Confined Spaces Guideline

Ministry of Agriculture and Food
Ontario.ca/agriculture

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

Please photocopy Ministry of Labour Alerts, distribute them widely and post them where people will see them.

ISSN 1195-5228

Disclaimer: This web resource has been prepared to assist the workplace parties in understanding some of their obligations under the Occupational Health and Safety Act (OHSA) and the regulations. It is not intended to replace the OHSA or the regulations and reference should always be made to the official version of the legislation.

It is the responsibility of the workplace parties to ensure compliance with the legislation. This web resource does not constitute legal advice. If you require assistance with respect to the interpretation of the legislation and its potential application in specific circumstances, please contact your legal counsel.

While this web resource will also be available to Ministry of Labour inspectors, they will apply and enforce the OHSA and its regulations based on the facts as they may find them in the workplace. This web resource does not affect their enforcement discretion in any way.