The Process and Hazards of Cleaning a Silo

Home Improvement

The use of silos is invaluable for storing anything from grain to chemicals. With prolonged usage, they are prone to blockages that can cause issues. Like other machinery, silos must be kept clean and be well maintained. The cleaning of machinery is a hazardous job, and numerous safety precautions must be recognized. The basic process of cleaning a silo is relatively simple; the debris is scraped away and the sides are brushed to avoid damage. This may be simple, but there are a lot of things that can go wrong. Throughout this article, we will take a quick look at the cleaning process, outline safety precautions, and what you can do to counter them.

The Very Basic Process

When materials are stored and compacted together, they can stick together, which leads to a build-up along the side of the silo. This build-up not only reduced the capacity of the silo but can block movement in or out. To remove the blockage, a machine similar to a drill is used, called a bin whip. By rotating at high speeds alongside the blockage, it breaks down materials into dust-like particles which can be swept away. You can find out all you need to know about bin whips at

Before cleaning commences, the silo must be shut down and emptied to avoid wastage. There is a hole in the top for workers to access the silo and one in the bottom for materials to exit. Typically, there is a platform or cage at the top so that workers can gain access to clean inside the silo.

Given the hazardous nature of the job, there are several health and safety guidelines to be followed – a lot of the safety procedures are laid out by the OSHA, as silos are classed as confined places.


Being lowered into a confined space and cleaning blockages stirs up dust particles, or other hazardous toxins depending on what is being stored. When cleaning the silo the right PPE must be worn. As well as wearing the correct PPE, consider hoovering the silo so that dust particlescan be carried to an external chamber.


Silos can be as high as 275 ft (90m) and falling from that height wouldn’t be pretty. Therefore, making sure you are properly harnessed is vital. In silos with platforms or cages to stand on, it is important to get them regularly inspected to avoid failure. Before entering the silo, make sure you are not the only person on-site in case something does go wrong; ensure there is an adequate escape route in place. Always enter the silo from the top in case there is any loose material waiting.


Above are the greatest hazards to prepare for; others include protection against irritants or chemicals. When cleaning out your silo, make sure you are supervised, follow given safety precautions, and use common sense. The result will give you higher storage levels and a machine that flows smoothly.