Deaths and injuries in grains handling ‘too frequent’, says US OSHA

By Kacey Culliney

- Last updated on GMT

The OSHA is working to prevent death and injury in the US grains handling sector
The OSHA is working to prevent death and injury in the US grains handling sector

Related tags: Osha

Cases of death and injury in the US grains handling sector are too frequent and could be prevented, says the US Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

In 2010, at least 26 US workers were killed in grain engulfments and over the past 50 years, more than 900 cases have been reported with a fatality rate of 62%, according to researchers at Purdue University in Indiana.

The OSHA is working with Nebraska grain associations and has developed a program to emphasis some of the dangers facing workers in the grains handling sector.

“We are committed to preventing the injuries and deaths that have been too frequent in the industry in recent years,”​ said Marcia Drumm, OSHA’s acting regional administrator in Kansas City.

“OSHA is working to change the ‘it won’t happen to me’ mindset. Grain handling injuries and deaths, such as engulfment and dust explosions occur quickly, and may be prevented if employers follow proper safety procedures,”​ she said.

Danger: Moving grains

The OSHA said it takes five seconds for a worker to become engulfed in flowing grain and 60 seconds before the worker is completely submerged.

“More than half of all grain engulfments result in death by suffocation,” ​it said.

“The behaviour and weight of the grain make it extremely difficult for a worker to get out of it without assistance.”

New decal for use in grains handling
New decal for use in grains handling

The administration is homing in on the six major hazards in the grains industry – engulfment, falls, auger entanglement, ‘struck by’, combustible dust explosions and electrocution hazards.

Drumm said efforts are being communicated on the ground with training but also through brochures, websites and decals [stickers].

The OSHA, Grain and Feed Association of Illinois and the Illinois Grain Handling Safety Coalition have developed a stop sign decal to stick to grain bin doors. The safety card recommends that employees lockout all moving equipment and stay clear of waist deep grain.

More information can be found here​.

Related topics: Processing & Packaging

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