More than 900 cases of grain engulfment have been reported in the past 50 years, with a fatality rate of 62 percent. At least 26 workers were killed in grain engulfments in 2010, the deadliest year on record, according to OSHA.
"OSHA is working hard to change the 'it won't happen to me' mindset," said Nick Walters, OSHA regional administrator for six Midwestern states. "Grain handling injuries and deaths can be prevented if employers follow proper safety procedures."
A new safety initiative has been introduced to protect workers in Wisconsin, Ohio, Kansas, Nebraska, Missouri, and Illinois. Included are Local Emphasis Programs for grain handling facilities that focus on the grain and feed industry's six major hazards:
- Auger entanglement.
- Struck by.
- Combustible dust explosions.
- Electrocution hazards.
"Suffocation can occur when a worker becomes buried by grain as they walk on moving grain or attempt to clear grain built up on the inside of a bin," according to the agency. "'Bridged' grain and vertical piles of stored grain can also collapse unexpectedly if a worker stands on or near it. The behavior and weight of the grain make it extremely difficult for a worker to get out of it without assistance."
The initiatives include training, decals, brochures, websites, and other ways of communicating to employers and workers to improve awareness of the risks. The agency has also partnered with the Grain and Feed Association of Illinois and the Illinois Grain Handling Safety Coalition to develop a stop sign decal to adhere to grain bin doors using pictures and short phrases reminding entrants to lockout potentially hazardous equipment, stay clear of waist high grain, cover floor holes, and to follow other best practices.
OSHA has also published information related to common grain industry hazards and abatement methods, proper bin entry techniques, sweep auger use, and many other grain related topics at www.osha.gov/SLTC/grainhandling/index.html. OSHA's Grain Bin LEP is used in 25 states.
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August 19, 2013
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