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The importance of ladders in new grain storage infrastructure

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

Grains Research and Development Corporation (GRDC) 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 said 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,” White said.

“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 the maintenance of seals and lid mechanisms. Without a ladder, alternatives include expensive specialist high-level access equipment.”

White said 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.

White said 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.