Collapsing grain could result in disability, death for workers

As the fall harvest arrives, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration is urging anyone working with grain to be vigilant to prevent accidents from taking place on the job. Grain, when flowing, can engulf a worker in as few as five seconds. By the time a minute has passed, the worker could be completely submerged, which can lead to suffocation.

If you are in a workplace that isn't providing the right safety precautions to avoid these accidents and get hurt, you could be able to seek workers' compensation. How common is this kind of accident, though, and is it something you should have to worry about? Between Nebraska and Kansas there have been two fatalities as a result of collapsing grain in 2016 alone.

It's been reported that over half of all the workers who become engulfed in grain die. Those who are saved often suffer permanent disabilities. How does such a tragic accident happen, though? An engulfment happens when grain collapses unexpectedly. For example, if there is a gap in the grain in the middle of a pile, then the bridge of grain making a kind of ceiling above that gap could fall. The problem occurs when a person is pulled into that gap, forcing him or her under piles of grain as they collapse into the empty space.

Because of the weight, density and way the grain flows, workers who are caught in a collapse are unlikely to be able to help themselves and need immediate help from those around them. This is why it's important for workers to be in buddy systems or to be connected with radios when working with grain bins.

Source: Workers Compensation, "As Fall's Harvest Arrives, OSHA Urges Grain-Handling Industry to be Vigilant to Stem a Tide of Recent Tragedies and Near Disasters," Oct. 13, 2016

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