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Confined Spaces in Agriculture—An Overview

Confined Spaces in Agriculture—An Overview

Industrial worksites can feature a wide variety of safety hazards, from tall ledges, to moving machine parts, to toxic and flammable materials. These hazards, however, are far more threatening to employees working in confined spaces. Confined spaces are usually relatively small or narrow, and not appropriate for long-term work. As a result, the people who enter them have less visibility and less room to move around, which makes it more difficult for them to recognize and deal with safety hazards before they become a problem. Employees always need to be thoroughly trained before they can enter confined spaces or monitor confined-space work.

Confined space hazards are easy to point out in industries like construction and sanitation. When identifying confined spaces around the workplace, however, it’s important not to overlook the many potential confined spaces that exist on farms, ranches, and grain-handling facilities. Farmers and farmworkers often have to perform tasks in tight quarters or in enclosed areas where the risk of injury is very high. In fact, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, farmers are the second most common workers killed in confined-space accidents. Some common confined spaces on agricultural projects include:

  • Grain silos
  • Manure tanks
  • Produce cellars
  • Wells and cisterns
  • Transport vehicles

Because confined-space hazards are so prevalent on agricultural work sites, Safety Provisions has published a new training on confined spaces in agriculture. This training covers all of the general precautions employees should take when working in confined spaces. It teaches about many types of safety equipment used in confined-space operations and emphasizes the need to test the atmosphere in confined spaces for toxins and oxygen deficiency. In addition, this training covers hazards specifically related to agricultural projects, like grain engulfment. It also includes explanatory accident profiles tailored to an agricultural setting. With proper classroom and practical work, you can ensure that the employees you work with are prepared to recognize confined spaces and protect themselves against the hazards inside.