Confined spaces

Confined spaces like silos, tanks, manure pits and other enclosed structures present a hazard to farmers, farm workers and children.

When in a silo, a person can be drawn under moving grain within seconds, like ‘quick-sand’. To prevent incidents and reduce the risk of injury, all ladders should be above child height and fitted with a device to prevent child access. Modern silos are now fitted with safety grids to restrict access.

Other confined spaces such as water tanks and manure pits can also be dangerous. It’s essential to follow proper safety procedures when you work in any confined space.

Farm safety – confined spaces

Water tanks, silos, wells, vats, manure pits, tunnels and other confined spaces can suffocate a person with either fumes or low oxygen levels. Farm workers, children and other people entering these spaces are at risk. People making a rescue attempt can also be in danger. Proper safety procedures are vital, including having a rescue plan and appropriate safety equipment.

Find out more about this topic on Better Health Channel

Fast facts:

Confined spaces

  • Confined spaces like silos, sewers, manure pits and wells often have low oxygen levels or a build-up of vapours.
  • Silos can be particularly dangerous, as people can be suffocated by falling grain or fertiliser.
  • Draw up an emergency rescue plan and have safety equipment (like breathing apparatus) available to conduct a safe rescue if someone becomes trapped.
  • Always make sure someone knows where you are.

References used for this topic

More information:

SafeWork Australia
Model Code of Practice: Confined Spaces

Job Safe South Australia
Confined spaces

WorkSafe Victoria
Confined spaces on farms

Research & reviews:

National Ag Safety Database (US)
Grain entrapment