The scope of agricultural production in our state is truly breathtaking. As far as grain crops, our soybean and corn harvests are massive along with respectable production of wheat, oats, buckwheat, sorghum and others. Of course, this level of production employs many workers – and working with and around grain crops is dangerous. Unfortunately, Illinois grain workers are at risk of injury and even death when safety practices are lax.
Grain bin accidents and other hazards
According to the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL), every six out of ten workers who become trapped in grain bins experience fatal injuries, often from becoming engulfed in heavy grain and suffocating. Grain storage may be on or off farm property as some grain storage facilities are independent operations.
OSHA recognizes six major hazards of work in the grain industry: dust explosions, electrocution, falls, auger entanglement, “struck by” accidents and engulfment.
At the above link, seven grain safety steps developed by an alliance for grain safety include:
- Do not “walk down” grain to get it to flow.
- Before entering a bin area, test the air for safety.
- When working around a grain bin, wear a harness and anchored lifeline.
- Always have a trained observer present when working in a bin to intervene if safety is compromised.
- Never enter any bin if there is grain buildup on the side.
- Use proper cleaning practices to control grain dust.
Anyone working in the Illinois grain industry must seek proper safety training from their employer. Should an injury arise in the course of working with grain, it is advisable to first seek medical attention, notify the employer and file a workers’ compensation claim. In the unfortunate situation where a grain worker sustains fatal injury, their surviving family members should seek advice about death and burial benefits.