Jan. 21, 2015
Worker caught in a grain bin at Grainco FS suffers injuries
Company faces more than $241K in OSHA penalties
NEWARK, Ill. – A 24-year-old newly hired worker suffered multiple fractures when his leg and foot became entangled in a running mechanical auger while in a grain storage bin at Grainco FS Inc. in Newark. The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration investigated the July 16, 2014, incident and found the company allowed hazards to exist in the grain bin. After identifying three willful and five serious safety violations, OSHA proposed penalties of $241,500 and placed the company in its Severe Violator Enforcement Program*.
"Sending this man into a grain bin with the auger running exposed him to extremely dangerous hazards," said Nick Walters, OSHA's regional administrator in Chicago. "Grainco is familiar with the precautions necessary to protect its workers, but failed to follow them. Life and limb should never be the cost of doing business."
OSHA's inspection found Grainco exposed the worker, to caught-in and amputation hazards when he entered the grain bin with the auger running. The employee, who had been on the job approximately three months, was also exposed to engulfment hazards from corn stored inside the bin. Grainco also violated confined space regulations by failing to have an observer monitor the worker while inside the grain bin. A confined space is one large enough for workers to enter and perform certain jobs, such as a grain bin, but it has limited or restricted means for entry or exit and is not designed for continuous occupancy.
A willful violation is one committed with intentional, knowing or voluntary disregard for the law's requirement, or with plain indifference to employee safety and health.
Inspectors also found Grainco failed to train employees on grain bin and confined space hazards and neglected to provide adequate rescue equipment to employees who entered the bin.
An OSHA violation is serious if death or serious physical harm could result from a hazard an employer knew or should have known exists.
To view current citations, see https://www.osha.gov/ooc/citations/GrainCo_985545_0114_15.pdf*.
In 2010, following the deaths of at least 26 U.S. workers in grain bin entrapments, the highest number on record, OSHA focused its enforcement effort on the grain and feed industry's six major danger areas. These include engulfment, falls, auger entanglement, struck-by, combustible dust and electrocution hazards. 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.
Ottawa-based Grainco operates five grain bin facilities in Illinois. In addition to buying and storing corn and soybeans, the company also distributes seeds, fertilizers and other agricultural products.
Grainco has 15 business days from receipt of its citations and penalties 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 Aurora office at 630-896-8700.
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.
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Release Number: 15-41-CHI
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