Grain sampling: Know how to manage the risks

Grain storage barley harvest August 2018_62469

Many merchants are no longer sampling grain at harvest and the job is falling to farmers and their staff to carry it out.

Any job carries a risk and the key to managing risk is to:

  • identify what could cause injury or illness in your business (hazards)
  • decide how likely it is that someone could be harmed and how seriously (the risk)
  • take action to eliminate the hazard, or if this is not possible, control the risk

To help you complete your risk assessment when it comes to grain sampling here are some points to consider

  1. How will risks from exposure to grain dust be controlled – has the appropriate face mask at FFP3 level been provided to staff?
  2. Lighting in grain stores is often poor and persons in a store may not be visible to drivers when they enter with a vehicle:
    1. Is high viz clothing provided?
    2. Have you checked the clothing provided is being used?
    3. Is it possible to enhance lighting in the store?
    4. Can persons working as grain samplers be given lighting to wear on their person e.g. head band light, or lapel light?
  3. Are sheds well ventilated and dry to minimise the risk of CO² build up?
  4. Sampling may involve lone working. Has:
  1. A lone working system been set up clearly recording who is working, where they are working and at what times they are working alone? This could be as simple as a phone call by the sampler to the office at a set time.
  2. Is there a check system in place to regularly make sure lone workers are safe and where they should be at any given time?
  3. Is clearly visible signage in place to warn drivers taking vehicles into lone working areas to be on the alert for staff?
  1. If sampling is being carried out by third parties are:
  1. Control mechanisms in place to record and monitor third parties in the workplace?
  2. Are third parties made aware of all the site rules?
  3. Is high viz a pre-condition of entry?
  4. Are third parties monitored in the same way as direct employees?
  1. Are the heights of grain piles monitored and kept to an acceptable level to control the risk of a fall from height?

Under no circumstances should samplers be allowed to climb plies of linseed because of the serious risk of drowning linseed presents.

Advice and guidance from the AHDB on grain storage is available here.

Guidance from the HSE on managing the risks from grain dust is available here.