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Occupational Safety and Health Administration OSHA

Accident Report Detail

Accident: 200925659 - Employee Is Killed When Engulfed And Asphyxiated By Wheat

Accident: 200925659 -- Report ID: 0355112 -- Event Date: 05/12/2009
InspectionOpen DateSICEstablishment Name
31344613005/15/20090111Griffin Bros
InspectionOpen DateSICEstablishment Name
31344587605/12/20090111Griffin Bros
On May 12, 2009, Employee #1 was a assisting a driver in loading a dump truck with old wheat from a bin, when the auger within the bin became clogged with clumps of wet wheat. According to the driver, Employee #1 attempted to dislodge the clumps of wheat from outside of the bin, using an approximately 10-foot long piece of metal rebar. When the auger was clogged with clumps of wheat, it would trip the 10-Amp circuit breaker, and the driver went to the shed to turn the breaker back on. When the driver returned to the bin, he found Employee #1 inside the bin, engulfed in wheat. The driver attempted but failed to free and pull Employee #1 out. He then called the owner, who was just pulling up on the site. Both the driver and the owner attempted but failed to free Employee #1 and then called emergency responders. EMS and the Fire Department arrived at approximately 11:05 a.m. and IOW (apparently Isle of Wight) Police arrived at 11:17 a.m. Employee #1 was found standing in an upright position, with his right foot lodged beneath the auger. The report from the office of the Chief Medical Examiner in Norfolk, VA indicated asphyxiation as the cause of death. The Compliance Safety and Health Officer (CSHO) spoke with the IOW County Fire Department Captain and learned that that they removed four truckloads (approximately 500 bushels per truckload) of wheat in order to remove Employee #1 from the bin. From interviews with the owner, Fire Department, and EMS, the CSHO learned that the grain was approximately 4 and 1/2 feet high by the door of the bin and approximately 15 feet high at the opposite wall. It was common practice for the employer and the employees to enter the bin to dislodge the auger, which tripped the 10-Amp circuit breaker when it was clogged with clumps of wheat. The CSHO observed manufacturer's warnings signs indicating, "CONFINED SPACE - DO NOT ENTER", on the door of the bin and warning signs on the auger to perform LOTO (lockout/tagout) when servicing the bin or performing maintenance. When interviewed, the owner revealed that entering the bin to dislodge wheat from the auger was common practice, and he had instructed Employee #1 to enter the bin, and use the 10-foot-long rebar to dislodge the wheat. The owner told the CSHO that his insurance provider said his employees should never enter the grain elevator (bin) while wheat is being stored.
Keywords: asphyxiated, confined space, agriculture, grain, lockout, auger, grain bin
Employee # Inspection Age Sex Degree Nature Occupation
1 313446130 Occupation not reported
2 313445876 Fatality Asphyxia Farm workers

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