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Grain entrapments decline in 2015: report

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West Lafayette, IN – Worker grain entrapments and other confined space incidents on U.S. farms decreased to the lowest level in a decade, according to a recent report from Purdue University.

The study recorded 47 confined space incidents in 2015, down 34 percent from 71 cases in 2014. The 47 incidents marked the lowest number since 2006, when 46 cases were confirmed.

Grain entrapments remain the most prevalent type of agricultural confined space incident, researchers said. Twenty-four entrapments, including 14 fatalities, were recorded in 2015, down from 38 entrapments (including 17 fatalities) in 2014. Iowa led the nation with seven grain entrapments, followed by Nebraska with four entrapments, and North Carolina and Ohio with two apiece.

Bill Field, professor of agricultural safety and health at Purdue, said in a press release that most grain entrapments occurred when a farm worker entered a bin or silo to dislodge clumps of grain. If the grain breaks loose, it may engulf the farm worker.

Some nonfatal confined space incidents may go unreported, Field said.

“Based on prior research through media sources and public safety records, it is estimated that the documented annual cases of agricultural confined space injuries or fatalities represent only about 70 percent of the total incidents that have occurred in the Corn Belt,” Field said in the release. “There has been reluctance on the part of some victims and employers to report nonfatal incidents since doing so could result in work delays or higher insurance costs.”

Field said an accurate count of confined space incidents is necessary to help protect workers.

“We need to know where the needs are so we can focus our prevention and rescue training efforts in those areas,” he said.

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