News Release USDL: 95-435
Tuesday, October 24, 1995
Contact: Frank Kane, (202) 219-8151
OSHA Proposes To Amend Grain Handling Standard To Provide
Greater Protection For Employees Against Engulfment Or Entrapment
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is
proposing to amend its grain handling standard to ensure greater
protection to workers against engulfment and entrapment in the
grain handling industry.
"We want to strengthen protection to avert tragedies such as
the death of Charles Patrick Hayes, a 19-year-old employee who
suffocated when he was engulfed by corn," said Assistant
Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health Joseph A.
Provisions in OSHA's current standard protect employees from
hazards faced while walking on or underneath accumulations of
grain within a grain storage facility. These hazards include
engulfment and entrapment in the grain and grain handling
equipment, which can result in asphyxiations, crushing injuries
However, it does not apply to employees entering "flat
storage buildings or tanks" unless entry is made from the top of
the structure. OSHA intended the exception to apply only to
entries that did not expose the employees to atmospheric,
engulfment or entrapment hazards.
The final rule assumed that hazards from entry into flat
storage structures only arise when the entry is made from the
top, because employees would stand or walk on the stored grain.
The text of the standard did not directly address situations in
which the same hazards would be encountered during entries from
lower levels. OSHA has learned that many entries take place from
levels lower than the top of the structure in facilities with
dimensions of greater diameter than height.
The tragic incident involving Charles Patrick Hayes occurred
two years ago on Oct. 22, 1993, when he and two other employees
were instructed to enter a Showell Farms, Inc., corn storage
structure in De Funiak Springs, Fla., to walk down the corn. The
workers entered the structure not at the top, but through an
opening several feet above the ground.
The three men walked down the corn while an auger at the
base of the structure was running. At one point, Charles Patrick
Hayes sank into the corn up to his knees. The two other workers
tried to pull him out, but he kept sinking as the corn began to
avalanche, covering him and pushing in the direction of the
auger. One co-worker left to shut off the auger while the other
continued to try to pull him from the corn. Rescue efforts were
unsuccessful, and he suffocated. No rescue equipment, observers,
lock-out procedures, or other precautions had been taken to
protect the workers during the entry.
Because the entry was not made from the top of the
structure, questions arose later over whether the Showell Farms
structure was a flat storage building as defined in the standard.
OSHA has determined that the present wording of the standard
needed to be improved in order to assure that employees such as
Charles Patrick Hayes have the protection that the standard
intended to provide during entry. Therefore, OSHA has acted to
amend the standard to accord with its original intent: to provide
appropriate protection to all grain handling employees, including
those who walk on or under stored grain in flat storage
Among other things, the revision would require the
All mechanical, electrical, hydraulic and pneumatic
equipment that could pose a danger to the employee during the
entry must be deenergized and disconnected, locked-out and
tagged, blocked-off, or otherwise prevented from operating.
The employer must provide the employee with a body harness
with lifeline, or a boatswain's chair to prevent the employee
from sinking further than waist-deep in the grain.
No employee is permitted to be in a location where an
accumulation of grain on the sides or elsewhere could fall and
engulf the employee.
Comments and requests for hearings must be postmarked no
later than Nov. 20, 1995, and submitted in quadruplicate to the
OSHA Docket Office, Docket No. H-117-B, Room N-2625, U.S.
Department of Labor, 200 Constitution Ave. NW, Washington, D. C.
20210 (telephone 202-219-7894).
Comments of 10 pages or less may be faxed to the Docket
Office if followed by hard copy mailed within two days. The OSHA
Docket Office fax number is 202-219-5046.
Notice of the proposed amendments is in the Thursday, Oct.
19, 1995, Federal Register.