Farm Buildings and Structure Safety

Your farm may have several buildings, including where you house animals, store machinery, conduct business, or keep food and supplies. While these locations are crucial to your operations, they can present risks if not properly maintained. Use this checklist to conduct a thorough safety inspection of your buildings.

General Buildings

  • Keep buildings free of trash, litter, tools, junk, or other items that could start or feed a fire, cause falls, or obstruct movement.
  • Keep all stairs and permanent ladders in good condition. Clear stairs of objects and slippery substances and install handrails where needed.
  • Repair or replace all rotted or broken floorboards and repair concrete floor defects.
  • Remove all nails before stacking loose boards.
  • See that all buildings have adequate lighting. Light fixtures in storage areas that contain combustible materials should be protected against breakage.
  • Promptly make all electrical repairs. Check all electrical wiring and verify that it’s sound. Also, visually check portable equipment power cords before each use.
  • Install lightning protection systems in all major buildings. Check the systems annually to ensure that air terminals and conductors are properly grounded.
  • Organize and store supplies so that items can’t fall or block walkways. Ensure that shelving is stable and can bear the weight of items stored. Provide needed equipment (ladder, lift, etc.) for easy access to supplies.
  • Close and secure doors and gates to hazardous areas (e.g. silos, manure storage, chemical storage, animal quarters) to prevent children and visitors from entering unescorted.
  • Mount a fire extinguisher of the proper size and type at each building entrance. Also maintain an on-site adequate supply of water for use in fighting fires, and have readily available ladders that can reach the roof of the highest building.
  • Post “No Smoking” signs in prominent locations and enforce no-smoking rules.

Grain and Silage Storage Structures

  • Close and secure entrances to grain and silage storage areas to prevent children and visitors from entering unescorted.
  • Seal silos tight to prevent fires.
  • Properly shield drivelines and working parts of filling and unloading machinery.
  • Ensure that grain bins have permanent inside and outside ladders and “lock out” mechanisms to cut off power. Any employee working inside a storage structure should use a lifeline.
  • Post warnings at machinery and bin locations where operations could automatically begin and trap a worker. Warn workers to stay out of bins that could be crusted or where grain flow could start.
  • Educate workers about the dangers of silo gas and oxygen deficiency and train them when and how to properly use a respirator.
  • Require the use of a respirator when handling dusty or moldy grain, or when cleaning inside a bin.

Shop Buildings

  • Use three-hole, grounded electrical outlets. To limit the risk of blown fuses and power outages, confirm that available electrical capacity can support power tool usage.
  • Unplug portable power tools when not in use.
  • Ensure that stationary power tools (e.g. grinders, saws) are grounded and have working guards and shields. Require employees to use guards and shields when operating tools.
  • Have fire extinguishers readily available.
  • Keep the shop floor clean, workbenches neat, and drawers shut.
  • Keep tools free of damage and in good operating condition.
  • Keep cutting-tool blades (e.g. saws, axes, knives) sharp. Store tools securely so that they cannot fall.
  • Keep welding areas well ventilated.
  • Store flammable and combustible liquids in approved and properly labeled metal containers. Keep materials away from welding activity and other ignition sources.
  • Store oily cleaning rags in covered metal containers.
  • Keep the entire work space, especially the workbench area, well lit.

Machinery Storage Buildings

  • Check the floor surface to ensure it is firm and level.
  • Park machinery to allow for ample walking space between units.
  • Open doors and windows before starting or running an engine indoors.

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The illustrations, instructions, and principles in this material are general in scope and, to the best of our knowledge, current at the time of publication. No attempt has been made to interpret any referenced codes, standards, or regulations nor to identify all potential risks or requirements.