Life-Saving Silage Safety Basics

Connie Kuber

The 5 W’s plus how to prevent accidents

It’s one of those things we don’t think about…until we must. We hear a siren, see an ambulance pull out of someone’s yard, read an article about a family across the country from us, or worse – attend the funeral of a silage accident victim. “Glad that’s not me” goes through our minds. It’s never about us, our family, employees, friends…until it is. Farming is a dangerous occupation, but farm accidents, including those involving silage, are preventable.





 

Why is silage safety important?

Knowing how to work around silage – while making it or feeding it – can be life and limb-saving. Being aware of danger is the first step. Second is taking responsibility for your own safety while looking out for all the farm team members. Third, having the tools to work safely gives everyone confidence to do their best job. Preparation for safe harvest, storage, and feeding phases saves time, money, and worry for small and large farms alike. Finally, successful silage safety requires constant vigilance by everyone on the team, and zero tolerance for non-compliance. It is important to celebrate accident-free time periods.

When will it be taught and

Ideally, teach twice per year, with reminder tailgate meetings as needed. Special trainings should be given for new or seasonal silage and feed area employees.





 

 What should be covered?

Just before harvest, focus on harvest machinery and equipment, road safety, silo gases, film application, communication, personal care and stress management. As silage is being fed, talk about that machinery and equipment, film removal, proper feedout technique, and pile or bunker sampling. Bag and tower silo users need to learn to manage those storage systems safely too.

Who needs to be taught?

All farm employees and those that live on or near the farm should know the basics of silage safety, and people with direct feed responsibilities must know the details of staying safe around silage. As summer break from school starts, take special care to remind children and young adults living or working on or near the farm to stay away from the silage and feed area. If they are working on the farm, take the time to train them in silage safety as completely as you would any other employee.

Where can and should it be taught?

Start by watching this safety video series together, then move to the appropriate location to customize the information to your farm equipment and environment.

How should we teach it?

Follow along in this video series, and order resources:

Silage Safety Coloring Book (English and Spanish) for all ages at www.connoragriscience.com. A lesson plan accompanies every order.

Silage Safety 101 Handbook (Keith Bolsen Silage Safety Foundation) www.silagesafety.org.

At the training’s end, test each person taking the course, record and file scores, and award certificates of success. Post silage safety posters in communal areas and simple “stay away” signs near feed. It is important to not only teach the information, but make sure that employees know why the information is important.

Silage accidents and near-misses happen more often than we think. Spending a few minutes learning how to avoid them is a wise investment. Enforcing strict safety rules can help farmers, their families, and their employees stay safe, productive, healthy…and alive.

Editor’s note: This silage safety information is produced by Connor Agriscience / Sealpro® Silage Films with the support of the Keith Bolsen Silage Safety Foundation. Both are experienced leaders in silage education. Please see their websites to request more information: www.connoragriscience.com and www.silagesafety.org.

The author is a partner in Connor Agriscience. Look for upcoming silage safety features in DairyBusiness.