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Workplace injury and death in the grain industry is a concern

On behalf of of Frederick & Hagle posted in Workplace Injuries on Wednesday, July 10, 2013.

Grain engulfment that results in suffocation and serious injury or death is a major workplace problem throughout the Midwest and other areas with agricultural and grain handling industries. Illinois and other Midwestern states are critically interested in reducing the incidence of workplace injury relating to grain engulfment and related problems. The dangers to workers in these industries are more serious than public awareness would indicate.

For example, in 2010 at least 26 workers nationwide died in grain engulfment accidents, which set a record for the highest number ever. In the past 50 years, more than 900 cases of grain engulfment were reported, with a fatality rate of 62 percent, according to Purdue University researchers. This pattern led OSHA to partner with the agricultural and grain handling industries to try and find ways to prevent grain processing deaths and injuries.

Importantly, every time a workplace injury occurs, the worker is entitled to collect workers’ compensation benefits. The workers’ compensation structure and benefits that we’ve described in these blogs applies also to grain handling injuries. When looking at safety measures, workers nonetheless also insist on and deserve aggressive, full enforcement of worker’s compensation benefits for injured workers. This concern is compatible with improving preventative safety.

OSHA has worked to erase the once-passive attitude in the industry to a new, aggressive mantra that stresses that employers’ safety measures can prevent workplace injury and death. Agricultural extensions associated with universities in the Midwest have become ‘hands on’ in promoting safety projects and safety information regarding grain handling. OSHA has partnered with a wide alliance of entities to get out the word on how to prevent these tragedies.

Additionally, the Grain and Feed Association of Illinois and the Illinois Grain Handling Safety Coalition have distributed a stop sign decal for application to grain bin doors. These remind workers in visual signs and illustrations that they should lockout hazardous equipment, stay away from waist high grain, cover floor holes and follow other best practices specified. The emphasis on reducing the incidence of workplace injury is a vibrant and consistent effort that may help workers in the industry stay healthier and enjoy a more prosperous work life than in the past.

Source: fdlreporter.com, “Partnership aims to prevent tragedy in grain industry,” June 26, 2013

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