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Harvest time brings higher risk of job injuries in agriculture

On behalf of Jeffrey Frederick of Frederick & Hagle posted in Industrial Workers’ Accidents on Monday, September 30, 2013.

It’s the time of the year when state and federal agencies become alert to the heightened dangers to workers in agriculture and related industries. According to an article by an OSHA area director in Illinois, farmers more than ever need to be aware of job injuries relating to grain bin hazards. Last year was marred by drought but this year’s record-breaking corn crop makes safety a prime concern in the industry.

The article reminds owners and employees that a worker can become engulfed in moving grain in five seconds, and in 60 seconds the worker can be submerged. That leads to suffocation and death. In the past 50 years, 900 workers were buried in grain, with 62 percent of them dying. 26 workers were killed in 2010 alone.

In consideration of the ongoing hazard of worker injury and death, the U.S. Department of Labor has taken heightened measures in the past few years to inform workers and help them to prevent grain engulfment. This includes publishing hazard alerts, sending letters to manufacturers and companies nationwide, and distributing Grain Bin Entry wallet cards. It has also conducted grain bin safety campaigns in various states.

It also produced various “Learn and Live” campaigns to help promote awareness of worker injury and death among agricultural workers. Most recently, OSHA awarded educational grants to Purdue University in Indiana and the University of Illinois for funding programs with workers and owners of grain elevators to help combat the hazard. Additionally, during the recent Farm Safety and Health Week, hosted by the National Education Center for Agricultural Safety, the theme was “Working Together for Safety in Agriculture,” which reflected agriculture having the highest fatality rates of all industries.

It should also be noted that at this time of year in Illinois and other states, harvest time presents other dangers of job injuries to workers and even to the public. Road hazards are created, particularly at dusk time, with slow-moving farm vehicles on the roadways. Drivers should remain aware and look out for such hazards. Additionally, workers are more vulnerable to worker injury from tractor turnovers and related machinery accidents at this time of the year.

Source: Occupational Health & Safety, Agencies Still Calling for Grain Bin Safety, No author, Sept. 24, 2013

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