Grain company pleads guilty, admits to violations in entrapment death

August 10, 2011

Denver – A Colorado grain company accused of creating a hazardous working environment that led to the death of a teen recently admitted its guilt in violating OSHA standards, but will pay only a fraction of its original $1.6 million OSHA penalty.

In May 2009, a 17-year-old Tempel Grain Elevators LLP employee suffocated in an engulfment while he was “walking the grain” – the practice of walking around the edge of a bin to dislodge clumps of grain while grain is flowing.

By entering its Aug. 5 guilty plea, Wiley, CO-based Tempel Grain agreed to not willfully violate the law, including OSHA regulations; not employ minors at its grain elevator sites; and develop procedures for entering grain elevator bins that include harnesses and lanyards or similar equipment.

As part of the plea agreement (.pdf file) with the U.S. Attorney’s Office and the Department of Labor, Tempel Grain agreed to pay $50,000 in OSHA penalties. The company also agreed to pay $500,000 to the victim’s family members.