Grain Bins Increasing Risks of Work-Related Accidents in Boston and Elsewhere

A Hazard Alert was recently issued by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). The work-safety watchdog released a wallet-sized informational card that is being used to warn employees who work inside grain bins about the risks of work-related accidents in Massachusetts and elsewhere as harvest season approaches.

Workers who handle grain are at a high risk for injuries including entrapment, fires and explosions resulting from grain dust accumulations, crushing and suffocation from engulfment, amputations and falls from heights.
Our Boston workers’ compensation attorneys understand the dangers that these workers face on a daily basis. A recent report issued by Purdue University reports that more than 50 workers were engulfed by grain in storage bins in 2010. More than 35 of these workers died. This is the highest number of fatalities resulting from these types of accidents that has ever been recorded.

“Suffocation from engulfment is the leading cause of death in grain bins and the number of tragedies continues to climb,” said Dr. David Michaels who is the Assistant Secretary of Labor for OSHA.

These accidents, injuries and deaths can be avoided if everyone partakes in just a few preventative measures.

These grain bins are used by companies to store a number of agricultural commodities. These bins oftentimes store, wheat, corn and oats. Workers that are required to enter these bins can easily suffocate from engulfment if they stand on the grain because it is not unlikely for the product to act as a quicksand and pull the worker under. Back in June, three workers died in just one week after experiencing this type of accident.

Employees are also at risk for suffocation if they enter a bin that doesn’t have enough oxygen. They’re also at risk if the bin contains hazardous chemicals. Oftentimes more than one worker is killed during these accidents because employees rush to help a fellow coworker who has been trapped in the bin.

If you have to go into a grain bin, you must take the following safety precautions to ensure your own safety:

-Make sure that you turn of and disconnect, block-off and lock out all of your powered equipment. This is especially important for grain-moving equipment.

-Make sure that you use a body harness that is anchored to something sturdy.

-Before entering, make sure that you test the grain bin’s air supply. This should be done to make sure that you’ve got enough oxygen to enter and that there are no toxic or flammable gasses present.

-You should never walk down the grain to help it flow.

-Never enter a grain bin without having rescue equipment on standby. You should also never enter without a rescue-trained person outside supervising.

-Make sure that your employer has a permit stating that all safety precautions have been executed on the machinery and in the bins.

If you have been injured at work in the Boston area, contact Massachusetts Workers’ Compensation Attorney Jeffrey S. Glassman for a free and confidential appointment to discuss your rights. Call (617) 777-7777.

More Blog Entries:

OSHA Strives to Protect Whistleblowers to Decrease Work Accidents in Massachusetts and Elsewhere, Massachusetts Worker Compensation Lawyers Blog, August 10, 2011

Fatal New England Work Accident Results in 18 Serious Violations, Massachusetts Worker Compensation Lawyers Blog, August 2, 2011

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