Once again, we have lost one of our agricultural workers to a silage pile face collapse. The most recent, in Michigan, was described this way in a Michigan Occupational Safety and Health Administration newsletter:
On November 30th, a 35-year-old veterinarian was found buried under a pile of silage at a dairy farm. The silage was outdoors on the ground. A farmhand and another employee pulled the veterinarian from the silage, started CPR, and called EMS. He was later pronounced dead by the county medical examiner's office at the hospital.
It is believed that the silage collapsed onto the veterinarian while he was perhaps taking a sample of the silage for analysis. According to the farmhand, the location of the veterinarian’s body indicated that he had been near the sheer face of the silage pile that was being removed by the front-end loader. There were no witnesses to the actual collapse of the pile onto the veterinarian.
If you have silage piles or bunkers on your farm, take the time to train all of your employees on the danger and realities of silage face collapses. If you run a business or agency where your employees routinely visit farms and collect feed samples . . . train your employees.
There are many excellent resources available that are free of charge (not that paying for these resources should have any bearing on whether to train or not). Here are a couple of places to start:
Keith Bolsen Silage Safety FoundationVirginia Tech silage safety videos (English and Spanish)