OSHA, NGFA form alliance to focus on grain, feed safety

By Aerin Curtis

- Last updated on GMT

Credit: istock/BsWei
Credit: istock/BsWei

Related tags Occupational safety and health

The National Grain and Feed Association (NGFA) in the US is set to work with the country's Department of Labor in an effort to call attention to safety concerns for members of the grain and feed industries.

The alliance​ was announced last month; it is intended to reach members of NGFA along with those working in the feed and grain handling or managing industries, said a spokesperson with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).

“The goal of the alliance is that employers and workers in the grain handling industry will learn and implement effective practices for reducing and preventing exposure to hazards associated with grain bin entry, machine guarding, respiratory protection, falls, heat, combustible dust, struck by equipment, and lockout/tagout in the grain handling industry,”​ the spokesperson told FeedNavigator.

Additionally, the partnership will look to develop trainings, educational material and outreach to address industry concerns, said Jess McCluer, VP of safety and regulatory affairs with NGFA. It offers a way to increase interactions between industry members and OSHA staff.

“It’s also sharing information,” ​he told us. “It’s a way to encourage the lines of communication between the organization and industry in general.”

Common dangers

The NGFA already has generated some safety information and guidance documents that are available through its website, said McCluer. However, industry members may not know that information is on offer and new employees may not be aware of common dangers.

“Everyone has heard of [the common issues], but there is a new generation in the industry,” ​he said. “It’s always good to remind everybody, they’re always important.”

The partnership also allows for the development of new materials, he said. One past safety effort saw NGFA conduct research and work with OSHA to address concerns regarding combustible dust in feed and grain facilities by developing a standard that has appeared to help reduce the number of incidents.

There are several areas set to be covered during the alliance, including ongoing issues like grain bin entry, engulfment prevention and machine guarding, he said.

“OSHA worked with NGFA’s Safety, Health, and Environmental Quality Committee, as well as input from the OSHA national office and field staff to identify the areas of focus for the alliance,”​ the spokesperson added.

Alliance details

The initial alliance is set to run for two years, said McCluer. However, there is a possibility to extend it after that point.

“The two main things are a developing a long-term working relationship with the agency where NGFA or our members can go to them and work with them and it won’t be a standoff enforcement type relationship,”​ he said. “And the second part [for] members of the industry and those outside of it [is] seeing us work together and [put] emphasis on the importance of the topics and the recommendations.”

The next phase in the development of the alliance is to have an implementation kick-off meeting, said the OSHA spokesperson. “OSHA will also invite representatives from the American Feed Industry Association and the Grain Elevator Processing Society to participate in the meeting,” ​she added.

The meeting will allow the groups to establish the plan along with setting goals and priorities going forward, said McCluer.

“The first step is outreach and education to see that we can jointly work together promoting safety and health,”​ he said. “If that goes smoothly, then we can move on to the next agreement where we can focus on developing specific materials for the industry.”

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