• Information Date
  • Presented To
    Stand-Up to Prevent Grain Engulfment
  • Speaker(s)
    Loren Sweatt

Remarks As Prepared For Delivery By
Loren Sweatt
Deputy Assistant Secretary of Labor
for Occupational Safety and Health

Stand-up for Grain Engulfment Prevention Week, April 9-13, 2018

Monday, April 9, 2018

Thank you so much for inviting me to participate in this year’s Stand-Up to Prevent Grain Engulfment. Most importantly, I thank all of you for valuing your employees and taking time to focus on safety.  

I’d like to thank John Heck and the Scoular Company, long time SHARP participants, for hosting this event, and the National Grain and Feed Association (NGFA) for coordinating the activities for the Stand-up for Grain Engulfment Prevention Week. 

I also want to thank the National Grain Elevator and Processing Society (GEAPS), GEAPS Great Plains chapter, the American Feed Industry Association (AFIA), the University of Texas –Arlington, Grain Journal Magazine, and the state of Missouri for all their support in making this campaign a reality.

I have the honor of working with over a thousand professionals committed to safety every day. Several of them are here today. I would like to recognize Kim Stille, Bonita Winingham, Glenn Taylor, Bill McDonald, and Karena Lorek from the OSHA offices in Kansas and Missouri. 

Missouri’s Department of Labor and Industrial Relations Anna Hui is another of our nation’s dedicated public officials.

OSHA appreciates the commitment of everyone here today from the grain industry, the training and education community, and our government partners to prevent grain engulfment. Without your hard work and commitment, the shared mission to keep workers safe, would not be possible.

Too many workers lose their lives in preventable grain engulfments every year. According the latest data available, there were 29 fatal engulfments in 2016 – a 21 percent increase from 2015. 

Five seconds. Five seconds is all it takes for flowing grain to engulf and trap a worker. Suffocation is a leading cause of death in grain storage bins. Based on the average flow rate for grain, a 6-foot tall worker can be covered in 11 seconds. In less than 60 seconds, someone can become submerged and in serious danger of death by suffocation. One minute is all it takes to change everything.

So, we must encourage workers to be vigilant at all times – beyond today and this week. Safety doesn’t start and stop with a stand-up or a campaign. Safety starts with a first step, whether it is a safety meeting, improvements in safety and health programs, participation in a stand-up, or one worker who takes five seconds to think about the next step he or she is going to take. 

Everyone here knows, safety cannot take a break. Participating in this week’s events is an important way to start a new growing season. Highlighting and emphasizing how to prevent engulfment, is time well spent. 

OSHA welcomes all grain industry stakeholders to join this effort to emphasize worker protection and ways to reduce injuries and prevent fatalities from engulfment. 

If we save one life this week, we may never know it, but it will be a success.

Together we can make a difference and save lives. Let’s do all that we can to send everyone home safe and healthy every day.

Thank you.