The unfortunate loss of life in grain bin entrapments has been one of the reasons that farming remains one of the most dangerous occupations in this country. As you are delivering on corn contracts, please remember to take the proper safety precautions on your farm. The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is more involved than ever with elevators and farms that have employees. Take the time now to review for yourself and with your employees the proper safety procedures to employ while working in grain storage structures.
The National Corn Growers Association and the National Grain and Feed Foundation, the research and education arm of the National Grain and Feed Association, unveiled a joint video project to promote awareness about grain bin safety several months ago.
The two organizations teamed up in November to develop the video in response to an increase in U.S. fatalities and injuries associated with entry into grain bins.
The video is available on youtube in two formats:
Just this week, OSHA cited North Central Farmers Elevator in Ipswich, S.D., with six willful violations for exposing workers to being engulfed by grain. Proposed penalties total $378,000.
"It's fortunate that the North Central Farmers Elevator worker who was engulfed survived — because many don't. Grain entrapments are killing workers. Grain elevator owners and operators must implement well-known safety practices to prevent workers from being hurt or killed in a grain bin," said Assistant Secretary of Labor for OSHA Dr. David Michaels.
At least 26 U.S. workers were killed in grain entrapments last year, and the numbers of entrapments are increasing, according to researchers at Purdue University. There were more grain entrapments in 2010 than in any year since Purdue researchers started collecting data on entrapments in 1978.
Since 2009, OSHA has issued fines exceeding $100,000 per employer to grain operators across the country following preventable fatalities and injuries. In addition to enforcement actions, OSHA sent a notification letter in August 2010 and another in February 2011 to a total of more than 13,000 grain elevator operators warning them of proper safety precautions, including prohibiting entry in grain storage facilities while grain is being emptied out or flowing in or out of the bin, prohibiting employees from walking down the grain and ensuring that employees enter the bin with the proper safety equipment.. "OSHA will not tolerate noncompliance with the Grain Handling Facilities standard," said Michaels in both letters. "We will continue to use our enforcement authority to the fullest extent possible." The February 2011 letter is available at http://www.osha.gov/asst-sec/Grain-Letter-2-1-2011.html.