Georgia's Greg Sikes Farm cited by US Department of Labor's OSHA
for grain bin safety hazards; more than $127,000 in fines proposed
BROOKLET, Ga. – The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration has cited Greg Sikes LLC, doing business as Greg Sikes Farm LLC, with two willful and five serious safety violations and proposed penalties of $127,400. The Brooklet farm was inspected in February upon notice that a worker had become entrapped inside a grain handling storage bin while attempting to clear soybeans from a jammed auger.
Two willful violations involve failing to ensure the screw auger is locked out when workers are inside the bin, and provide workers a body harness with a lifeline upon bin entry. A willful violation is one committed with intentional, knowing or voluntary disregard for the law's requirements, or with plain indifference to worker safety and health.
Six serious violations include failing to develop an emergency action plan, provide annual training on grain handling hazards and obtain permits addressing bin entry procedures and requirements. The company also failed to equip the workers who entered the bin with rescue equipment, allowed workers to walk on the grain and did not ensure that an observer was stationed outside during bin entry or was equipped to provide assistance in case of an emergency. A serious violation occurs when there is substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result from a hazard about which the employer knew or should have known.
"This incident, involving well-recognized hazards within the grain industry, should have been preventable," said Robert Vazzi, OSHA's area director of the agency's Savannah Area Office. "Sikes cannot continue to fail its workers by not providing employees with a safe and healthful work environment."
The citations can be viewed at http://www.osha.gov/ooc/citations/GregSikesFarm_890822_0813_13.pdf*.
OSHA is working with the grain and agricultural industries, and the agricultural community, to educate employers and workers about the six major hazards of the grain and feed industry. Through training, decals, brochures, websites and other means of communication, OSHA will continue to work to improve awareness of these hazards to ensure the safety and health of workers on farms and in grain handling facilities. OSHA has also published information related to common grain industry hazards and abatement methods, proper bin entry techniques, sweep auger use and many other grain-related topics at www.osha.gov/SLTC/grainhandling/index.html. OSHA's Grain Bin LEP is used in 25 states. The National Grain Entrapment Prevention Initiative has also developed a flier on grain bin safety at http://grainnet.com/pdf/Grain_Entrapment_Prevention.pdf*.
The company has 15 business days from receipt of the citations to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA's area director, or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.
To ask questions, obtain compliance assistance, file a complaint, or report workplace hospitalizations, fatalities or situations posing imminent danger to workers, the public should call OSHA's toll-free hotline at 800-321-OSHA (6742) or the agency's Savannah Area Office at 912-652-4393.
Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are responsible for providing safe and healthful workplaces for their employees. OSHA's role is to ensure these conditions for America's working men and women by setting and enforcing standards, and providing training, education and assistance. For more information, visit http://www.osha.gov.
U.S. Department of Labor news materials are accessible at http://www.dol.gov. The information above is available in large print, Braille or CD from the COAST office upon request by calling 216-893-7828 or TTY 216-893-7755.
* Accessibility Assistance: Contact OSHA's Office of Communications at 202-693-1999 for assistance accessing PDF materials.