If one thing is for sure this time of year, it’s that winter weather can be unpredictable. For example, one week recently temperatures in parts of the Midwest were in the 50s with rainy conditions for days. Then, the following week, the same areas experience subzero temperatures, piles of snow, and forceful winds.
This can be particularly frustrating and dangerous when working in, near, and around some areas of elevators this time of year. One day, the catch basins are snow-covered; the next, water is standing over the drains, and the list can go on and on.
To help deal with these conditions, a recent article provides a number of tips and reminders on things to do during these times to keep you and your facility in a safe condition, as well as maintain grain quality.
- Keep walkways and driveways clear of snow and ice. Slips and falls are a real danger this time of year.
- If you operate with stone drives, keep some extra stone around to spread over the ice and snow covered drives. While it won’t melt the snow, it will give some traction. Sand works as well.
- Keep your eaves’ trough drains clear as the water needs to get away. Make sure the water can get to a drain without ponding. Refreezing overnight can create serious hazards.
- Keep your catch basins in the plant clear of ice and snow. During rapid thaws, if the water can’t get away, flooding can take place. Also check your sump pumps as they can freeze up.
- If water can’t get away, temporary structures like piles are at particular risk of water running back into them.
- Tarps can loosen, as the grain shrinks due to aeration and during rapid thaws. Consider re-tensioning, if possible.
- Safety inspect grain surfaces to see if snow has blown in, especially around vents.
- Snow and ice sliding off tarps, tank roofs, etc., during thaws could damage your fans and other equipment. There is also a danger to personnel working in close proximity to sloped surfaces.
- Watch your grain temperatures closely. Fan operation during rapid warm-ups can reintroduce warmer moisture-laden air that can cause you issues in the future.
- Railcar operations are of particular concern. Keep switches clean and tracks as clear as possible. Make sure driveways that cross tracks are cleaned, and the flange areas are clear; otherwise, it is easy to derail cars at this type of crossing.
- Keep a close eye on grain quality. Even slight changes in temperatures can indicate a problem. Make sure you are cooling your grains to safe storage temperatures, and keep them cool if the temperature begins to rise.
- Regularly test your grain for mycotoxins so you know its value or limitation and can formulate a plan for the best way to utilize each resource.
- Always take the time to review daily tasks, to ensure everyone on your team knows the risks associated with the work at hand. A few minutes of time spent preparing for the day’s activities can help you and your coworkers prevent an accident.
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