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Don’t omit ladders when ordering new grain storage infrastructure

Grain growers are encouraged to not omit ladders from their silo orders. Ladders meeting the Australian standard are required in order to safely conduct maintenance and monitor grain in the silo.
Photo: GRDC

Grain growers ordering new silos are encouraged to include ladders in their purchases to ensure safe access to storage systems.

GRDC's grain storage extension specialists said many growers were tempted to save a few dollars by omitting the ladder from the order, but this could impact the functionality of the silo and make maintenance and monitoring more difficult.

GRDC grain storage specialist Ben White says in some instances, manufacturers were encouraging growers not to fit ladders, citing health and safety risk exposure for the grower as well as ease of transport and construction.

“However, ladders are an essential silo feature allowing growers to inspect grain in the 'headspace’ (between the top of the grain stack and the roof of the silo) where many grain storage problems are likely to first appear,” Mr White says.

“Insects are most prevalent in the warm grain in the headspace so regular inspection during grain storage is recommended.

“Access to the silo lid and inlet is also essential for maintenance of seals and lid mechanisms. Without a ladder, alternatives include expensive specialist high-level access equipment.”

Mr White says ladders should be constructed to the Australian standard which specifies cage requirements and intermediate platforms.

An alternative used on large flat-bottom silos is a spiral set of stairs, which are also required to have intermediate platforms according to an Australian standard.

Mr White says that as an important feature of any silo, growers were advised to compare the construction quality and design of ladders which could vary between brands.

As a further safety precaution, ladder access should be stowable or locked to prevent unwanted access by children or untrained personnel.

For multiple silos constructed in a straight line, a single ladder with a top platform to provide access along the line of silos may be a feasible and more cost-effective option worth exploring with the silo manufacturer.

Growers are advised to refer to the grain silo buyers guide produced by the GRDC Stored Grain Extension team.

Growers can access expert advice and assistance on best practices when storing grain by calling the GRDC stored grain extension hotline: 1800 WEEVIL (1800 933 845).

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