Topics explained – Agriculture – Portable field bins

A portable field bin is a temporarily located bulk container often for the storage of grains.

Field bins are, generally:

  • intended for the storage of substance such as granular crops and stock feed
  • equipped with discharge outlets
  • capable of being emptied by gravity, mechanical or pneumatic means
  • equipped with fixed, retractable or removable wheels for the purpose of towing it from one location to another.

Field bin in a paddock

Portable field bins have been known to cause serious injuries and even fatalities. Portable field bins should be moved with caution.

Incidents may occur if:

  • a field bin with a spring assisted mechanism to lower or raise the bin is incorrectly handled
  • a worker is positioned directly in line with the tensioned detachable lever used to raise the field bin for transportation
  • the lever handle is not firmly secured and/or controlled to prevent movement
  • the field bin is not completely empty and the force on the lever is greater than the force the operator can control
  • the wheels have been removed and not replaced and the spring tension has forced the lever to move in an uncontrolled way.

Care is necessary when operating such levers due to the stored energy. Operating instructions should be followed, and unusual operations such as wheel changing should be planned and done with care. Persons other than the lever operator should stand well clear during operation of the device.

When purchasing new field bins, evaluate the requirements for the strength and size of persons who might operate the mechanism, such as adolescents.

Alternative methods of raising bins are available that allow movement to be controlled at all stages by most people, and reversed easily. Also consider what provision is made for wheel changing and if any unusual tools are required and need to be available to the operator (eg to allow warning signs to be complied with).

Using lever handles

The raising and lowering mechanism is designed to utilise operator strength and may have an adjustable tensioned spring to provide additional assistance.

During the bin raising stage, as the lever is turned, it will reach a point where the weight of the bin (and spring force – if fitted) will maintain the bin in the lifted position.

The operator must position themselves out of the way of the detachable lever in case it releases or kicks back.

A locking pin must be installed into the bin axle for transportation. While this is a required action, it may place the operator directly in line with the tensioned detachable lever, should the operator lose control of the detachable lever and/or the bin moves.

Portable field bin attached to a tractor

Lever on a field bin

Safety solutions

To reduce the risks of incidents and injuries occurring:

  • only raise or lower the field bin when empty
  • ensure the lever is firmly secured to the bin lifting mechanism or removed prior to installing the locking pin
  • never hold the lever down by standing on it
  • follow the manufacturer’s recommendations regarding safe use
  • develop and implement safe lifting/lowering procedures (including for wheel maintenance), in consultation with workers
  • consider using alternative methods of raising the bins, such as the use of winches or hydraulic lifts
  • obtain a suitable modification kit and have it fitted by a competent person.