Federal agencies Agriculture, forestry and fishing

OSHA calling attention to grain industry hazards

Grain bins

Washington – In the midst of the crop growing season, OSHA is working with several partners to raise awareness of grain industry hazards.

A worker can become engulfed in flowing grain in five seconds, and completely buried in 60 seconds, according to a June 19 OSHA press release. The agency said 2010 was the deadliest on record for grain incidents, with at least 26 U.S. workers killed in grain engulfments.

To help prevent grain-related deaths, OSHA and its partners in several Midwest states are working to educate employers and workers about the six major risks in the industry: engulfments, falls, auger entanglements, struck-bys, combustible dust explosions and electrocution hazards. OSHA also recently conducted several inspections in the grain industry through Local Emphasis Programs.

Separately, the Indiana Department of Labor on June 20 issued a reminder about working safely in grain handling facilities, including tips such as providing workers with a body harness and lifeline, prohibiting employees from walking on top of grain to make it flow (known as “walking down” the grain), and testing the air within a bin for combustible or toxic gases.

On June 24, an employee at an Indiana co-op was killed in a grain silo explosion, the cause of which was not immediately clear at press time, according to the La Porte County Sheriff’s Office Facebook page.