Grain Bin Entrapments Increase Nationwide, Resulting in Farm Worker Deaths

Many agricultural workers in North and South Carolina perform work that requires them to go into a grain bin. While it may be something many who are not working in agriculture have never considered, grain bins can be very dangerous places to work. One typical accident, which can cause serious injury or even death, involves a shifting of contents, causing workers to get trapped inside. Another danger posed by grain bins is bacteria can cause fermentation, which can actually lead to spontaneous combustion inside a grain bin, which, in turn, can injure or kill workers.

industry-1042408-m.jpgHowever, it should noted, some do not believe there has been any significant increase in the number of grain bin collapses and related deaths or injuries, but, rather, there has been a large increase in reporting of such incidents in recent years as this is now a focus.

According to a recent feature from Agrinews, Grain bin entrapments are up nationwide. Currently, levels of grain bin entrapments, and employee deaths as a result of these entrapments are at its highest level since 2010. Researchers at Purdue University believe the increase we are seeing across the country may be related to larger amounts of grain being stored in grain bins in the past several years than in previous years.

Agricultural industry experts also believe younger farmers and farm workers who lack experience face the greatest risk of being injured or killed in a grain bin entrapment incident. Many of these less experienced farm workers do not immediately realize the extreme dangers posed by what is essentially a mountain of grain in a metal container.

These entrapments happen most frequently when an employee enters the bin to break up clumps during the loading and unloading process. Grain that has spoiled (called out of condition grain) can block the flow of grain to or from the bin or silo, and farm workers often have to break it up manually.

As our Rock Hill workers’ compensation attorneys can explain, from time to time studies are commissioned to determine how many deaths occur in a particular industry. Research into a number of deaths form a particular cause is referred to as surveillance. There are a variety of ways to conduct this surveillance. Some researchers may work with United States Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to review records of deaths or serious work-related injuries at farms or agricultural production centers to see how many accidents occurred over a given period of time.

However, not all farm deaths are reported to OSHA, so researchers might also send people to medical examiner’s offices or coroner’s offices throughout the nation in places where farming occurs to review all death records to help ascertain a number.

This research will help people learn more about employee deaths in a particular industry, and then others can use that information to make new policies and procedures to prevent or reduce the number of similar accidents in the future.

Specifically, researchers consider a grain bin entrapment as an agricultural confined-space incident resulting in death.

If you have been injured at work, contact the Lee Law Offices at 800-887-1965.

Additional Resources:
Grain entrapments up nationwide in 2014, May 2, 2015, Ag ews

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Shubert v. Macy’s West, Inc. – Failure to Adhere to Care Plan, March 19, 2015, Rock Hill Work Injury Lawyer Blog

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