Grain Bin Accidents May Set New Record

According to a new report from Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana, this year could very well be the deadliest year nationally for grain engulfment accidents since 2010, which currently holds the record for the number of grain engulfment fatalities. Every year, Purdue compiles and publishes a summary of grain-related entrapments and engulfment nationwide.

The number of reported incidents this year had already surpassed last year’s total by about the middle of the summer.  Although the final numbers won’t be published until some time next year, researchers are suggesting that it’s a good bet the total will cme very close to 2010, and could even set a new record.

Researchers also point out that the reported number isn’t even an accurate representation of the problem, and that the real number may be as much as 30 percent higher. Part of the problem stems from the fact that more than 60 percent of U.S. grain storage is on farms that are exempt from Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) reporting requirements. That means, in a large number of cases, a farm worker is rescued, and no one outside the farm even hears about it.

Nearly 40 percent of recorded entrapments in 2013 ended with the worker’s death. Thankfully, that number has been declining steadily in recent years, down from a 73 percent fatality rate from 1964 to 2008. Among the factors experts believe are making the difference include safer procedures for confined-space entry, greater awareness on the part of farm workers and the public and more comprehensive first responder training.

According to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), grain bin entrapments are not the most common cause of death in agriculture, but they tend to be gruesome deaths, and they tend to have a more profound effect on families. In addition to the image of a farm worker heading into the bin to perform some basic task and being essentially “drowned” by the grain, many of the entrapments involve young people. According to the Purdue survey, about 20 percent of all grain entrapments involve people younger than 21. Some were as young as middle school age.

One reason this year may be one of the worst in history is because of the volume. The U.S. Department of Agriculture has predicted a record 14.4 billion bushels of corn will be harvested nationally this fall. And with grain prices relatively low, many producers are holding onto it in hopes of a better price down the road.

If you or a loved one has been injured in a grain bin or silo accident, you will need a lawyer who understands how to litigate such complex cases, so please contact the Texas Industrial Accident Lawyer at Hill Law Firm to schedule a free consultation as soon as possible, so that we can conduct a thorough investigation and gather evidence to help you protect your rights.

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