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OSHA Region V is increasing its enforcement and outreach efforts in response to the deaths of several workers in grain bin engulfments in the Midwest during the summer of 2010.  As part of its outreach efforts, Region V is participating in the Grain Handling Safety Coalition, a group of public and private organizations in Illinois working to prevent grain bin accidents through education and outreach. 

Region V's grain handling safety outreach is part of OSHA's overall efforts to protect workers in this industry.  For example, on February 1, 2011, OSHA Assistant Secretary Dr. David Michaels sent a letter to approximately 10,000 operators of grain elevators and bins to remind them of their safety responsibilities.  Dr. Michaels sent a similar letter on August 4, 2010, to approximately 3,000 operators.  OSHA also issued a fact sheet in 2010 called Worker Entry Into Grain Storage Bins [1 MB PDF*, 2 pages] that reviews the hazards of grain storage bin entry and the safe procedures that all employers must follow.

There was a dramatic increase in the number of workers engulfed and suffocated in grain bins in the U.S. in 2010.  According to the University of Purdue's Agricultural Safety and Health Program, there were 51 grain bin entrapments in 2010 (25 of which were fatal), more than in any year since they started collecting data in 1978. 

The Illinois Grain Handling Safety Coalition was formed in response to the deaths of two teenagers in a grain elevator in the state in July 2010.  The Coalition's goal is to prevent grain engulfments at facilities from small on-site storage facilities to large commercial elevators.  Its motto is "Sow Safety. Reap Rewards." The Coalition includes farm groups, educational institutions, state departments, the commercial grain industry, family members, representatives from OSHA and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), rescue personnel, and others interested in eliminating engulfments in grain bins.

Kathy Webb, the Area Director from OSHA's Area Office in North Aurora, Illinois, is a member of the Coalition and John Newquist, an Assistant Regional Administrator with OSHA's Regional Office in Chicago, provides outreach to the group.  Ms. Webb participated in the development of the Coalition's mission statement and motto and is working with the group on radio public service announcements that will air in the spring of 2011.

The Coalition is working on educational projects designed to raise awareness of grain handling hazards in the farm community.  For example, Ms. Webb is helping the Coalition develop grain handling safety training materials that qualified trainers (Coalition members) will use to make presentations around the state, including at various Illinois Farm Bureaus.  The training materials would also be posted on a Web site being developed for the Coalition.  The Coalition may also develop several grain alert cards for grain handling facilities, farms, and youth.

To support the Coalition's outreach efforts, representatives from OSHA's North Aurora Area Office participated in a grain handling safety seminar for 82 attendees in Dixon, Illinois, in February 2011.  The OSHA representatives developed and distributed to the attendees a laminated grain wallet card outlining the dangers of engulfment and corrective actions to take for grain bin entry. The OSHA representatives also distributed other publications, including OSHA facts sheets on grain and farm safety, the OSHA grain handling facilities standard (29 CFR 1910.272), and the OSHA grain handling pamphlet.  

In addition to participating in the Grain Handling Safety Coalition, OSHA Region V is continuing its grain handling safety outreach through other avenues. The following are some examples:

  • OSHA's Illinois Area Offices signed an Alliance with Grain and Feed Association of Illinois in 2009 to address hazards in the industry.
  • All Area Offices in Region V received training under a program developed and presented by the Region V Regional Adhoc Training Committee on Grain Handling.  The Illinois Grain and Feed Association and other groups from Wisconsin and Ohio also participated and presented in those training sessions.
  • The Appleton, Wisconsin Area Office is working with the Wage and Hour Division to give a presentation on the Region V Grain Handling Facilities Local Emphasis Program at tractor safety classes at local technical colleges.
  • The Illinois On-site Consultation Service sent out letters to the facilities that received Dr. Michael’s grain handling alert letter in August 2010.  The letters offered their free consultation service.  They may also send out similar letters to facilities that received letters from Dr. Michaels in February 2011.
  • On December 6, 2010, the Aurora Area Office gave a presentation on grain bins and other topics for agriculture students at Kishwaukee Community College in Malta, Illinois.

For more information, please contact Kathy Webb.

As of March 2011.




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