OSHA Cracks Down on Rise of Grain Equipment Deaths

Following the death of a 20-year-old worker in Ohio last September, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration has drawn national attention to grain storage facility deaths. After inspecting Gavilon Grain LLC, OSHA charged this company with over forty citations and $465,500 in fines for safety violations at their three Ohio facilities in Morral, West Jefferson and Harpster .

OSHA’s Assistant Secretary of Labor, Dr. David Michaels, explained that this death, in which the employee got caught in a discharge auger when cleaning out a grain bin, should have been avoided: “This tragic death could have been prevented had the grain bin owner and operators followed occupational safety standards and learned from the tragedies that have occurred at other grain bins…Grain elevator owners and operators must implement well-known safety practices to prevent workers from being hurt or killed in a grain bin.” Purdue University researchers report that approximately 25 workers in the U.S. were killed in grain equipment last year and that 2010 saw the highest number of grain deaths since they started collecting this data in 1978.

Because the number of deaths related to grain processing is on the rise, OSHA sent a notification letter in February 2011 to grain storage facility operators warning them of grain equipment safety standards. OSHA explains that entrapment deaths occur due to employer negligence, poor safety practices, and non-compliance with OSHA standards. Michaels said that “OSHA will not tolerate noncompliance with the Grain Handling Facilities standard…We will continue to use our enforcement authority to the fullest extent possible.”

Although grain equipment deaths are not as frequent in Massachusetts as in other farming states, grain equipment can nonetheless pose a threat to workplace safety and employers should always take action for a safer workplace. Since 2009, OSHA has cited and fined numerous other grain operators nationwide in order to prevent further workplace injuries or deaths due to grain equipment.

If you have been injured in the workplace, please do not hesitate to contact one of our experienced Massachusetts Work Injury Lawyers for advice on a case and a free consultation.


US Labor Department’s OSHA cites Gavilon Grain for willful, other safety violations following death of 20-year-old worker at Morral facility, OSHA National News Release, March 16, 2011
Contact the Massachusetts work injury lawyers at Altman & Altman if you have been injured on the job.

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