Safety is a year-round requirement. Once it’s time for the silage to be fed out, the structure presents many dangers, which can easily be avoided by staying out of high-risk areas and remaining vigilant when working in, and around, silage structures.
- Never work in or near a silo, bunker or pile alone: bring a buddy to keep an eye on you.
- Wear safety vests while working around silage and operating equipment.
- Maintain communication and visibility with a buddy in a safe location when working on, or in, a silage structure.
- Install guardrails on above-ground level walls.
- Use equipment operating from the ground level to remove spoiled silage from the surface of bunkers and piles.
Figure 1. Never Work Near Silage Alone and Wear Safety Vests.
- When on top of a silage pile, stand no closer to the feedout face than 6 feet.
- Use caution when removing plastic, tires, tire sidewalls, and/or gravel bags from bunker silos and drive-over piles, especially near the walls and edge of the feedout face.
- Always use caution when working on top of the silage bunker or pile.
Inspecting and Sampling Safely
- Do not take core samples if the feedout face is more than 8 feet tall.
- Never allow a person to ride in the bucket of a front-end loader to take samples from the silage feedout face.
- When sampling silage, take samples from a loader bucket after it is moved to a safe distance from the feedout face.
Create a Safe Silage Face
- Do not “pitch” spoiled silage. It is simply too dangerous to remove spoilage from the top of bunkers and piles. Only remove spoiled silage with equipment operated safely from ground level.
- Use proper unloading techniques, which includes shaving silage down the feedout face.
- Never dig the bucket into the bottom of the silage. This can create an overhang.
- Never drive the unloader parallel to, or near the feedout face of an over-filled bunker or pile.
Maintain a Safe Distance
- Never stand closer to the face than 3 times its height.
- Never park vehicles or equipment near the feedout face.
- Post warning signs to ensure visitors and bystanders observe these rules.
Check out these resources written by experts for more information on silage safety.
- Basics of Silage Safety Video. This 8-minute video is intended to make producers aware of the ever-present dangers when working around silage storage structures, and re-enforce good practices to reduce risks on their operations.
- Silage Safety Handbook is a free download available in both English and Spanish. The handbook offers practical tips for building, maintaining, and feeding out silage bunkers and piles, plus information about the potential dangers of gases formed naturally during the ensiling process. Printed copies are available upon request.
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