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Occupational Safety and Health Administration OSHA

Accident Report Detail

Accident: 200002400 - Employees Killed When Asphyxiated By Corn Pile

Accident: 200002400 -- Report ID: 0728500 -- Event Date: 02/20/2007
InspectionOpen DateSICEstablishment Name
30971221402/21/20074221Ray-Carroll County Grain Growers
At approximately 8:00 a.m. On February 20, 2007, Employees #1 and #2 were standing on an outdoor corn storage pile using shovel and pipe to remove or break up clots to keep grain flowing through a ground level grate over the drag conveyor. Employees #1 and #2 were in radio contact with the employee manning the control panel for the conveyors. A radio distress call from Employee #1 to the control room operator indicated that the men were in the grain. The control room operator shut down the conveyor systems and ran to the corn pile, but no radio contact could be established with Employees #1 or #2. The control room operator changed frequencies and called for help on his radio and began climbing the corn pile. Employees #1 and #2 were not visible and assumed to be under the corn. One of the office staff heard the distress call and summoned emergency medical services. All employees who heard the call for help from the control room operator immediately responded to the corn pile. The area manager and a couple other employees climbed the pile and entered the inverted cone where grain had been removed. The men tried to rescue Employees #1 and #2, but the corn repeatedly rolled back into the cone. One of the laborers drove a truck over to the adjacent construction project where a dirt contractor was working to solicit help. The dirt contractor responded to the pile with all equipment and personnel to aid in rescue/recovery. The outdoor ground pile was 270 ft across and capable of storing 1,000,000 bushels of corn. The pile was round at the base and conical. The central tower and outer 4-ft bunker walls were controlled aeration and the moving air up the tower pulled the tarp closer to the corn and preventing wind from removing the tarp. The drag conveyor was operating while the employees were on top of the pile. No lifelines or other effective means to prevent them from sinking greater than waist deep in the corn were provided. On February 20, 2007, all employees attended confined space training from approximately 7:30 a.m. to 8:00 a.m. The confined space video shown to employees did not discuss or mention engulfment hazards. Employees were aware of engulfment hazards, but state that the one-half hour training session did not cover engulfment. This was Employee #2's second day of work. The one-half hour training session is the only training that Employee #2 received. The training is provided annually, but was specifically held February 20, 2007, because of Employee #2 (the new employee). It is believed that the half-empty pile still held approximately 500,000 bushels of corn. Management and responders estimated that the pile was about 20 ft where Employees #1 and #2 were working. Responders could not move the corn back by hand without it rolling back. The heavy equipment operators pulled grain away from the area the employees were believed to be. Two fire department personnel helped in recovery efforts wearing full body harness attached to the elevator leg/conveyor that lead to the pile. Both Employees #1 and #2 bodies were recovered more than 4 hours later, beneath 10 ft to 20 ft of corn.
Keywords: asphyxiated, grain, corn, clogged, conveyor, fall, pipe, shovel, tower
Employee # Inspection Age Sex Degree Nature Occupation
1 309712214 Fatality Asphyxia Laborers, except construction
2 309712214 Fatality Asphyxia Laborers, except construction

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