Topics explained – Agriculture – Grain silos

Grain silos on farms are an integral part of farm infrastructure and have a variety of uses. They can be used for the storage of grain, legumes and animal feed between seasons.


In situ grain silos on farms have been associated with various incidents including:

  • falls from heights while accessing the top of silos to open/close hatches or while checking fill levels within the silo or for maintenance work
  • engulfment within the silo
  • structural failure or collapse and
  • being damaged by moving vehicles, creating risk to the health and safety of workers.

Incidents involving in situ grain silos may be under-reported. This could be due to farmers not realising that they need to report injuries to us or the incident being relatively minor or regarded as a near-miss incident. Even minor and near miss incidents need to be reported to us.

Grain silo

Possible causes of incidents

Incidents may occur if:

  • workers using silo ladders are:
    • in unsuitable footwear
    • failing to maintain 3 points of contact with the ladder
    • attempting to carry tools or objects while climbing the ladder
  • silos are not regularly inspected to identify metal fatigue, corrosion or damage from moving vehicles or plant
  • workers are working under or in the silo while filling or emptying of grains is occurring
  • the silo is overfilled due to a change of product with greater moisture content (eg wheat compared with legumes).

Safety solutions

To reduce the risks of incidents and injuries occurring:

  • regularly inspect and maintain the silo
    • you may need a competent person to assess the structural integrity of the silo
  • conduct a structural inspection after extreme weather events
  • do not enter, work inside, on, above or beneath a silo while filling or emptying is occurring
  • comply with requirements for safe working in confined spaces
  • always maintain three points of contact when ascending/descending silo ladders
  • ensure silos have ground operated hatch levers and sight glasses
  • assess and repair in situ silos with physical damage (eg impact from mobile plant) prior to attaching additional load to the silo such as winches or hydraulic lifts.

Corroded area of a grain silo