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May 11, 2015

OSHA cites Burnett Dairy Cooperative for failing
to ensure employee's safety after man dies in a grain bin

GRANTSBURG, Wis. – For most of his adult life, a 52-year-old man avoided the dangers of working at a Grantsburg feed mill. In November 2014, he was trying to unclog a sump when he was engulfed by corn and died in a grain bin.

After an inspection, investigators from the U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration identified two willful and eight serious safety violations at Burnett Dairy Cooperative.

Inspectors found that Burnett did not follow safety standards for entering grain bins; failed to deactivate a drag conveyor; and allowed the worker to be in the bin while the corn was moving.

Illustration of grain engulfment hazard, It takes only two to three seconds to become helpless in flowing grain, Crusted grain surface, Void

"Many people lost a loved one and friend that day-a wife and five children and co-workers that had known him for more than 30 years," said Mark Hysell, OSHA's area director in Eau Claire. "It takes seconds to become trapped in flowing grain. Burnett Dairy is familiar with the precautions to protect its workers, but failed to follow them. Life or limb should never be the cost of doing business."

OSHA's inspection found Burnett exposed the worker to engulfment hazards by not following required grain handling and energy control procedures which included having the drag conveyor running when the employee entered the grain bin. The company also violated confined space regulations by failing to have an attendant trained in confined space rescue for the worker while inside the grain bin. Burnett also failed to ensure confined space and energy control procedures were implemented and enforced throughout the rest of the feed mill. A confined space, such as a grain bin, is one large enough for workers to enter and perform certain jobs. It also has limited or restricted means for entry or exit and is not designed for continuous occupancy.

OSHA proposed penalties of $193,200 and placed the company in its Severe Violator Enforcement Program*.

To view current citations, see*.

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.

Burnett Dairy 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 Eau Claire office at 715-832-9019.

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

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Media Contacts:

Scott Allen, 312-353-6976,
Rhonda Burke, 312-353-6976,

Release Number: 15-858-CHI

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